NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- The Democratic candidate who lost her Congressional bid to Scott Taylor in the 2016 election has been charged with fraud and theft of government property, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Wednesday.
58-year-old Shaun Brown of Hampton allegedly stole from the USDA's Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), several years before her race for the House of Representatives.
“There was no wrong doing I am innocent,” Brown says. “This was always about feeding the kids.”
According to a grand jury indictment, Brown worked with a non-profit called JOBS Community Outreach Development Corporation, which sponsored the SFSP in 2011 and 2012. The federally-funded program is meant to feed children during the summer, when school free-lunch programs are not available.
“The concern is that calls were made to create problems for our program,” Brown says.
Prosecutors say Brown and members of her staff submitted fraudulent claims for reimbursement in 2012, inflating the number of children who were fed to obtain additional money.
Brown and her attorney James Ellenson say a Virginia Department of Health audit done back in 2012 and 2013 found no irregularities.
“She was given a clean bill of health back then,” Ellenson says. “It was dealt with, there weren't any issues back then, so it's perplexing we would have a criminal federal indictment now 5 years later.”
Brown recently filed a $10-million civil rights complaint against the USDA and Virginia Department of Health, alleging discrimination against her nonprofit.
“It's interesting timing,” Brown says.
If convicted, Brown could face up to 20 years in prison.
In 2016, Brown was the Democratic nominee for Virginia's 2nd Congressional District, which represents Virginia Beach, Accomack and Northampton counties on the Eastern Shore, and parts of Norfolk and Hampton. She lost to Republican Scott Taylor.
Brown still plans on running again 2018. Her first court appearance is scheduled for January 12th at 9 a.m. at the federal courthouse in Norfolk.