Skip to main content
Press Release

Omaha Nonprofit Director Sentenced to 4 Months in Prison for Wire Fraud

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

United States Attorney Susan T. Lehr announced that on April 2, 2024, Brenda K. Banks, 61, of Omaha, Nebraska, was sentenced in federal court in Omaha for wire fraud. United States District Judge Robert F. Rossiter, Jr. sentenced Banks to 4 months’ imprisonment. There is no parole in the federal system. After her release from prison, Banks will be required to complete a 3-year term of supervised release, of which she is required to serve the first 8 months on home confinement. Banks was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $83,087.01 and was fined an additional $5,000.00.

In 2018 and 2019, Banks, then-Executive Director of Angels on Wheels (AOW), submitted fraudulently altered documents to the Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) to receive grant disbursements. These grants were awarded to AOW, a charitable nonprofit organization, to manage electronic collection and recycling events. Banks submitted applications and other documents to the NET to obtain the grant disbursements from the NET for two grants totaling $220,234. The NET required Banks to submit documentation, such as invoices or images of checks, prior to the distribution of any grant funds. In order to receive reimbursement for purported grant expenses, Banks repeatedly submitted false documents, to include altered check images and fictitious invoices, to the NET. For example, Banks fraudulently altered images of checks by whiting out the names of the individuals or companies that the checks had been paid to and writing names of other entities or organizations. Banks then presented the images of the altered checks to the NET. The NET relied upon Banks’s fraudulent submission of documents to award the grants, and to disburse funds in furtherance of the grants.

Similarly, during the same period, Banks submitted applications and other documents to the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) to receive disbursements of funds from three additional grants for litter reduction & recycling totaling $184,141. As she did with the grants awarded by the NET, Banks submitted false documents, to include falsified check images, fictitious invoices, and unsupported payroll reports, to the NDEE. The NDEE relied upon Banks’s fraudulent submission of documents to award the grants, and to disburse funds in furtherance of the grants.

Both the NET and NDEE are funded through the Nebraska Lottery and grants are made available for the completion of projects for the public good. In their respective agreements with grantees, grantees must not provide false or misleading information regarding actual documented expenses incurred during the application process or quarterly reporting process. In the case of each of the five grants awarded, Banks sought reimbursement for the full amount of the grant funds at least in part through her submission of altered and fabricated evidence of expenses.

Additionally, on April 27, 2020, Banks applied to Great Western Bank for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan on behalf of Angels on Wheels. As part of Angels on Wheels application to receive the PPP loan, Banks submitted a Board Resolution that falsely represented that AOW’s Board met on April 22, 2020, and that all of AOW’s Board members were present at a meeting and voted for Banks to be appointed as the individual who was authorized to apply for the loan on behalf of AOW. In fact, AOW’s Board of Directors held no such meeting and was not aware that Banks had applied for a PPP loan for AOW. On May 11, 2020, $60,420 of PPP loan funds were disbursed and deposited into the Great Western Bank account that Banks had opened using the fraudulent Board minutes. The PPP loan was later forgiven by Great Western Bank, though no funds were repaid.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


Donald J. Kleine - Chief, General Criminal Unit (402) 661-3700

Updated April 5, 2024