Trio of fraudsters admit to buying fancy cars with meal money meant for Pennsylvania kids

A trio of fraudsters have pleaded guilty to using money intended to feed Pennsylvania children to buy a line of luxury cars and luxury clothing, federal officials said Thursday.

Charles Simpson and Paige Jackson, both from Dallas and Tanisha Jackson from Memphis, all admitted that they created a fictitious non-profit organization that received federal funding to provide food for disadvantaged children after school and in the summer.

But instead, taxpayers’ money went to high-end clothing, air travel and hotel stays, and at least nine screaming cars – including a Bentley, two Land Rovers, two Maserati, two Mercedes, a Hummer and a Porsche. U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania said Thursday.

Simpson and Tanisha Jackson also withdrew more than $ 10,000 from the organization’s non-profit accounts more than a dozen times, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

The trio grabbed about $ 4 million between 2015 and 2019, federal officials said.

Their Texas-based charity, Helping Others in Need, will receive federal funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to feed children in the state.

Simpson, 44, and Tanisha Jackson, 49, used aliases because they were excluded from eating programs in other states, the prosecutor said. In some cases, Tanisha Jackson introduced herself as her daughter and co-defendant Paige Jackson, 30, when she spoke to government officials in the field of education.

Paige Jackson also uses a fake name sometimes, according to authorities.

According to the US Attorney’s Office, the defendants filed lawsuits to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars under false claims. The non-profit organization has either increased the number of meals it served when it actually fed some children, or sought funds for food on days when the dining area was not working at all, authorities said.

“It’s very frustrating when greed and selfishness take over and deprive our young people of much-needed funding to provide them with nutritious food,” said Mike Nordwall, the FBI’s special envoy in Pittsburgh, when the allegations were made last year. “It is unacceptable to use a non-profit organization as a means of participating in nutrition programs aimed at fraud (United States Department of Agriculture). It is also insulting to the teachers and educators who work every day to make a better future for our children. ”

Simpson and Tanisha Jackson agreed to pay $ 1.5 million in restitution to the federal government and lose an additional $ 427,000 as part of their application. Paige Jackson agreed to pay about $ 190,000 to the federal government.

All three pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud by mail and telegraph, which could result in a maximum sentence of 20 years each. Simpson and Tanisha Jackson are also involved in a money laundering conspiracy, an indictment that carries a maximum sentence of ten years.