NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Former candidate for Congress Shaun Brown of Hampton is on trial in federal court for the second time this year. Her first trial on charges of theft and fraud ended in August with a hung jury.
Prosecutors say she used her 2012 summer lunch program known as JOBS to defraud the US Department of Agriculture, by overstating the number of meals she served to low-income children.
Brown is confident of an acquittal, but Tuesday afternoon two of her former employees said she directed them to falsify records.
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“I’m positive that I’ll be exonerated,” Brown said outside the federal courthouse in Newport News.
Two former employees testified that Brown instructed them to overstate how many children the program actually served.
The federal program was administered at the state level by the Virginia Department of Health.
Brown’s attorney says sometimes sites were changed at the last minute, and that would cause discrepancies.
“If you haven’t notified Richmond and the site monitor comes down, they are not going to see any kids,” said attorney James Ellenson.
The JOBS program had 85 sites, and two former site supervisors detailed how Brown allegedly directed them to overstate the number of meals served. The higher numbers would mean higher federal reimbursements for the program.
One of the employees said after she refused to increase her totals, Brown fired her after just three weeks with the organization.
Another site supervisor testified that Brown instructed him to enter large round numbers – 150, and 350 several times – for a site where “literally nobody was coming there.”
“There was maybe to a degree some management practices that weren’t completely 100 percent perfect,” Ellenson said. “There are going to be issues and oversight like that.”
The trial is expected to last at least until the middle of next week.
If convicted, Brown could face up to 20 years on the theft and fraud charges.