Minden non-profit director gets 2 years on federal embezzlement charges

Crime

MINDEN, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A Minden woman has been sentenced to two years in prison for embezzling and converting government funds for her own use.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 60-year-old Teressia Garner was sentenced last week to 24 months in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons, followed by three years of supervised release. Garner was also ordered to pay $244,060.09 in restitution

Garner was the director and registered agent of Safe Haven Development, Inc., a non-profit corporation. Safe Haven entered into an agreement with the Louisiana Department of Education’s Division of Nutrition Support to participate in several Child Nutrition Programs, including the Child and Adult Care Food Program and the Summer Food Nutrition Program.

Safe Haven received federal funding and participated in these programs from 2011 through 2015 by providing meals to those children and adults that are enrolled in participating child care centers, adult daycare centers, and daycare homes.

Garner used the Child Nutrition Program funds for personal use in the form of donations, gifts, retail store purchases, hotels, and restaurants. For example, in 2015, Garner planned a Christmas party for the employees of Safe Haven at the Wyndham Garden Shreveport. Garner paid for the party, totaling $9,578.48 with program funds that had been deposited into the Safe Haven business account.

“The greed shown by Garner for self-indulgence at the expense of those for whom this program was intended will not be tolerated in Louisiana, Mississippi, or elsewhere,” U.S. Attorney Darren LaMarca said in a statement announcing the sentencing. “I thank our partners in Louisiana, both federal and state, for pursuing this investigation to its responsible source.”

Garner pleaded guilty to embezzlement on July 9.

The case was prosecuted by Southern District of Mississippi Assistant United States Attorneys Erin Chalk and Meghan McCalla.

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