SHREVEPORT, La. -- The director of a Webster Parish non-profit organization that led a summer feeding program for low-income children has admitted to stealing more than $1 million from the federal government, U.S. Attorney David Joseph announced Wednesday in a news release.
Myrna Thomas Quarles, 59, of Cotton Valley, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark L. Hornsby. She'll return to court on Jan. 16 for sentencing. Quarles faces up to10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine and restitution.
A federal grand jury indicted Quarles in May on five counts of theft of government property, five counts of forged securities of the states and private entities and 27 counts of money laundering.
The charges stem from Quarles' position as director of Greater Horizons Developmental Services, a non-profit headquartered in Webster Parish.
Greater Horizons received reimbursements from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Feeding Service Program, which was administered through the state of Louisiana. From 2014 through 2015, Greater Horizons submitted reimbursement claims that greatly inflated the number of eligible meals provided, Joseph said.
Once Greater Horizons received the money, Quarles wrote checks that were payable to vendors and other third parties, but instead of sending those checks to the vendors, Quarles deposited that money into her personal bank account, which resulted in her theft of $1,103,148.92 from federal feeding program.
Additionally, Quarles used a Greater Horizons credit card for approximately $370,000 in personal spending. Purchases included real estate, farm equipment, a restaurant, air travel, cruises and designer luxury items.
The FBI, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, and State of Louisiana, Office of State Inspector General, conducted the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian C. Flanagan and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook are prosecuting the case.