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Former County Program Administrator Charged With Fraud, Theft Of Federal Program Funds In 25-Count Indictment

March 14, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY – A federal grand jury returned a 25-count indictment Wednesday afternoon charging Richard Parks, age 64, of Salt Lake City with theft from a program receiving federal funds, wire and mail fraud, and making false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements. Parks was the Salt Lake County Program Administrator for AmeriCorps from 2003 to 2011.

The indictment alleges that as a part of his duties as Salt Lake County Program Administrator for AmeriCorps, Parks was responsible for managing, controlling, and reconciling AmeriCorps contracts, accounts, funds, grants and the administration of AmeriCorps programs in Utah, including in St. George.

The indictment alleges a pattern of fraudulent activity involving five AmeriCorps members working under Parks’ supervision in St. George, including paying individuals at a full-time rate when they were, in fact, half-time members; paying for incomplete terms of service and for hours which were not allowed; authorizing, submitting and giving awards to members for which they were not entitled or which were in violation of AmeriCorps policies and regulations; awarding incentive bonuses to AmeriCorps members which violated policies and regulations; fraudulently authorizing living allowance paychecks; accepting, authorizing, and submitting fraudulent time sheets; compensating members for disallowed travel time; and paying individuals for time not worked.

An audit of the Salt Lake County Community Resources and Development Division’s AmeriCorps Program was conducted by the Salt Lake County Auditor’s Office. The audit led to a criminal investigation by the FBI.

The indictment includes a notice of intent to seek criminal forfeiture of $95,154.50 which the indictment alleges represents the value of the proceeds obtained or derived in connection with the offenses alleged in the indictment. (Editor’s note: The indictment does not allege he received this money personally.)

The indictment alleges six counts of theft from a program receiving federal funds; 10 counts of wire fraud; five counts of mail fraud; and four counts of making false and fraudulent statements. The potential penalty for each theft count is up to 10 years in prison. Wire and mail fraud counts have potential 20-year sentences per count. The penalty for the false statement counts in the indictment is up to five years in prison. Each count in the indictment has a potential fine of $250,000.

Indictments are not findings of guilt. Individuals charged in indictments are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court. A summons will be issued to Parks to appear for arraignment on the charges.

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