Defendant Jeannette Jives-Nealy was on probation at the time related to a similar scheme of which she was convicted in Florida in 2007.
A Criminal Court jury on Friday convicted her of theft over $60,000 and money laundering for misappropriating $162,125 between June and July of 2014 while doing business as Kingdom Dominion Worldwide Ministries, Inc.
Jives-Nealy was taken into custody and faces a minimum of eight years, either in prison or on probation, when she is sentenced Aug. 20 by Judge James Lammey Jr.
She applied for and received the funds through the Summer Food Service Program for Children, a U.S. Department of Agriculture program administered by the Tennessee Department of Human Services.
She was awarded $122,000 based on projections that she would serve 33,800 meals to children each month that summer, but was given an additional $40,000 after claiming to have served more than 40,500 in June of 2014.
Investigators said there was no credible documentation that Jives-Nealy served any meals to children. When auditors from the state Comptroller’s Office met with Jives-Nealy to review her accounting records, she claimed the records were destroyed by flooding stemming from a plumbing issue.
Auditors, however, toured the area at her Kingdom ministry at 895 E. Brooks Road #7 and found no evidence of water damage or the records. She told auditors the damaged records were in a dumpster behind the building, but auditors found no records there either.
Bank records showed that Jives-Nealy did not use grant funds to purchase food for children, but instead indicated large cash withdrawals and frequent debit card purchases for retail items and travel. She had listed her son as the representative for the feeding program.
At the time, Jives-Nealy was on probation for a theft and racketeering conviction Florida where she and her sister had fraudulently obtained and misused more than $200,000 in government funds intended for school vouchers, and school breakfasts and lunches. She was sentenced to four years in prison and 10 years’ probation.
The trial last week was handled by Asst. Dist. Atty. Byron Winsett, chief prosecutor of the DA’s Public Corruption and Economic Crime Unit.
Special audit investigator Philip Job testified on behalf of the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury.