Federal authorities have charged four more people in an elaborate scheme to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from Catholic Charities.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday that they’ve charged four women with conspiracy to commit wire fraud to obtain more than $680,000 in charitable funds meant to help homeless people.
The case is related to one that broke earlier this year when the U.S. Attorney’s Office charged five people with defrauding the nonprofit. The five were part of a ring of former Catholic Charities employees who recruited other employees, family and friends to pose as fictitious homeless clients to obtain money meant to pay the rents for people escaping homelessness.
“We at Catholic Charities are angered and frustrated to have been the victim of criminal acts where individuals who were entrusted with the responsibility of serving our most vulnerable neighbors conspired to defraud Catholic Charities,” the nonprofit said in a written statement Tuesday. “We greatly appreciate the diligent attention law enforcement and criminal justice professionals have given this matter. It is important that the individuals involved in this criminal scheme be held accountable for their actions and seek to make amends as they move forward in life.”
According to the most recent charges, Clarissa Lynn Combs, 48, of Brooklyn Park is accused of devising and participating in a scheme from April 2012 to February 2019 to fraudulently obtain at least $684,081 in charitable money from the organization. She is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of making false statements to federal investigators.
Others charged with fraud included: Bridgit Yvette Michaud, 54, of Minneapolis; Jalonda L. Combs, 37, of Brooklyn Park; and Audrey S. Heath, 34, of Woodbury.
According to court filings earlier this year, former Catholic Charities employees recruited people to pose as landlords renting apartments to homeless individuals. The employees used their accomplices’ Social Security numbers, fake rental agreements and falsified IRS forms to push through rental reimbursements at Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The accomplices then split the money with the employees.