Sharon Denise Ross, 53, was the executive director of House of Refuge Twin Cities, a St. Paul-based non-profit which she enrolled in the Federal Child Nutrition Program under the sponsorship of Minnesota Department of Education’s contractor, Feeding Our Future. Here is the kicker. Feeding Our Future was a fraud. A $250 million fraud scheme that exploited a federally funded child nutrition program during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the scheme, Feeding Our Future recruited individuals, like Sharon Denise Ross, to open Federal Child Nutrition Program sites throughout the state of Minnesota. These sites then fraudulently claimed to be serving meals to thousands of children a day. But rather than feeding the children, they fed themselves.
Ross claimed that House of Refuge operated distribution sites at a dozen locations throughout the Twin Cities. In total, Ross fraudulently claimed to have served nearly 900,000 meals and received approximately $2.4 million in fraudulent Federal Child Nutrition Program funds. Too bad Ross didn’t buy food with those funds. She wouldn’t be going to prison if she had. Instead, Ross distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to family members and used the rest of the money to fund her lifestyle, including three new homes totaling almost $1.5 million. She also spent over $360,000 on cars. A 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, 2020 Porsche Macan, 2021 GMC Sierra pickup 2021 Nissan Murano and a 2022 Tesla Model Y don’t come cheap. Sorry kids. No food for you. A girl needs her cars.
On January 11, 2024, Ross pleaded guilty to COVID-19 fraud. She is the 17th defendant to plead guilty to charges relating to the Feeding Our Future fraud scheme. Sixty defendants in total have been arrested. So, forty-three more defendants to go!
Outstanding job in this investigation conducted by the FBI, IRS – Criminal Investigations, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Today’s Fraud of The Day is based on article “Big Lake woman pleads guilty to exploiting child nutrition program” published by The Center Square on January 11, 2024
Court documents say Sharon Denise Ross, 53, was the executive director of House of Refuge Twin Cities, a St. Paul-based non-profit which she enrolled in the Federal Child Nutrition Program under the sponsorship of Feeding Our Future and Sponsor A.
Ross claimed House of Refuge operated distribution sites at a dozen locations throughout the Twin Cities that served food from a vendor called Brava Café, a restaurant in Minneapolis run by Hanna Marakegn. Between September 2021 through February 2022, Ross falsely claimed to be serving thousands of children each day at her House of Refuge sites.