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Press Release

President of Two Nonprofits Sentenced to One Year in Prison for Stealing Nearly $500,000 from State of Minnesota

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Minnesota

United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger today announced the sentencing of ROBERTA BARNES, 59, to 12 months in prison. BARNES pleaded guilty in December 2014 to using two nonprofit entities to defraud the State of Minnesota for more than $480,000. BARNES was sentenced today before Chief U.S. District Judge John R. Tunheim in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minn.

According to her guilty plea and documents filed in court, BARNES was the president of two St. Paul-based nonprofit organizations, Agape House for Mothers (“Agape”) and Sierra Young Family Institute (“Sierra”). Through Agape and Sierra, BARNES won approximately $1.7 million in grant funds from by the Minnesota Department of Health (“MDH”) and the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (“MHFA”).

From 2002 until May 2012, BARNES applied for and received grant money from MDH and MHFA to combat teen pregnancy and provide housing assistance to needy families. Instead, BARNES spent more than $480,000 of the grant funds on personal expenses for herself and her family; she attempted to conceal her fraud scheme by creating fraudulent invoices that reflected false expenses incurred by Agape and Sierra.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Langner prosecuted this case.

Defendant Information:

St. Paul, Minn.

• Mail Fraud, 1 count

• 12 months + 1 day in prison
• 2 years supervised release
• Restitution to be determined

Updated August 24, 2016

Financial Fraud