Three indicted for federal program fraud - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Three indicted for federal program fraud

This is a news release from the Department of Justice

Jackson, Miss - Linda Harvey-Irvin, 62, of Jackson, Donald Walton, 51, of Vicksburg, and Markuntala Croom, 45, of Columbia, Mississippi have been indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiring to embezzle money from the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community Action Agency ("GCCAA"), an organization that receives more than $10,000 in federal funding each year, announced U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis and Acting FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp.

Harvey-Irvin, the former Director of the GCCAA and Director of the associated Head Start Program, is charged in one indictment with Donald Walton, owner and operator of Walton Construction, with conspiracy to commit federal program fraud by accepting and paying bribes.

According to the indictment, Harvey-Irvin accepted money from Walton in exchange for awarding construction contracts. It is alleged that GCCAA paid Walton approximately $365,282.20 during the course of the conspiracy and Walton, in turn, paid Harvey-Irvin $31,000 in kickbacks for the awarding of those contracts.

A second indictment charges Harvey-Irvin and Markuntala Croom, owner and operator of Croom Management Services, with conspiracy to commit federal program fraud by accepting and paying bribes, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

According to the indictment, Harvey-Irvin accepted money from Croom in exchange for awarding contracts for consulting work. It is alleged that GCCAA paid Croom approximately $649,047 during the course of the conspiracy and Croom, in turn, paid Harvey-Irvin $91,961.49 in kickbacks for the awarding of those contracts.

The indictment alleges that Croom and Harvey-Irvin conspired to launder the kickbacks with Croom making cash deposits into a bank account owned by Harvey-Irvin. The maximum statutory penalties for the offenses charged are: five years in prison and a $250,000 fine per count for conspiracy, ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine per count for accepting and paying bribes, and 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine per count for conspiracy to commit money laundering.

These cases were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor - OIG. It will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Gilbert. The charges contained in an indictment are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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