17th person pleads guilty to role in Feeding Our Future case
Another person has pleaded guilty to defrauding taxpayers of millions of dollars that were meant to help feed children during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sharon Denise Ross, 53, of Big Lake, pleaded guilty to wire fraud in federal court on Wednesday. She’s the 17th person to enter a guilty plea in connection to the Feeding Our Future fraud scheme.
Ross was the executive director of the nonprofit House of Refuge Twin Cities, based in St. Paul.
According to court documents, Ross claimed that the nonprofit operated distribution sites at a dozen locations around the metro and served thousands of kids each day. Altogether, House of Refuge claimed to have served 900,000 meals and got around $2.4 million in fraudulent funds from the federal child nutrition program.
However, instead of using that money to feed children, prosecutors say Ross gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to family members and used the rest to pay for vacations, a home in Willernie and a suite at a Timberwolves game.
Her sentencing hearing will be scheduled at a later time.
Federal prosecutors have charged at least 60 people in connection to the case, which has been called the largest pandemic relief fraud scheme in the country.