ROCK ISLAND, IL,- Wednesday 9-19-18, Nora L. Steele, waived indictment and plead guilty to defrauding the government of approximately $515,617, and filing a false tax return.
Nora is the former operations director of the Quad Cities Area Children’s Food Program (QCACFP) from its beginnings in February 2016 until her and the company parted ways in June of 2017. Prior to the creation of the food program, Steele had a similar job since 2004 for, Church of Peace, in Rock Island.
Steele, 66, of Silvis, Ill, pleaded guilty to fraud and filing a false tax return in her appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan E. Hawley in Rock Island. Sentencing will not take place until Jan. 17, 2019 in Peoria.
According to the press release:
"In today’s hearing, and according to court documents, Steele admitted that from August 2015 to June 2017, she submitted falsely inflated meal count forms for reimbursement. In some cases additional meals that were not served were added to counts of legitimate meals that were served to children. In other cases, Steele submitted fraudulent meal count forms when no meals at all were served at a particular location on a given day."
In addition, Steele would fake mileage reimbursements. Steele consistently claimed to have driven about 1,500 miles per month for a reimbursement of approximately $840 for work-related travel that she did not actually make. From March 2016 through June 2017, Steele claimed work travel mileage reimbursement for more miles than the vehicles belonging to Steele and her husband had actually traveled. As a result of the fake mileage reimbursement claims, Steele received $15,059 in 2015 and $19,282 in 2016 that was not taxed or reported as income on Steele’s personal tax returns.
Church of Peace and QCACFP provided summer and after-school meals to at-risk children throughout the Quad Cities area. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, reimbursed the program a set amount per meal served. On a monthly basis, QCACFP submitted requests for reimbursement to the State of Illinois, which in turn received funding from USDA to pay the reimbursement.
Meals were provided in conjunction with after-school learning or care programming, typically at elementary or junior high schools and were operated by YMCA or Spring Forward Learning. Between 2015 and 2017, QCACFP provided meals to 35 to 50 sites in the Quad Cities and Galesburg, Ill., communities each month.
At sentencing, the statutory maximum penalty for mail fraud is 20 years in prison. For filing a false tax return, the penalty is up to three years in prison.
For some background on what lead to this moment, follow the link here