CAMP SHELBY, Miss.–Taking a large amount of food from the cafeteria of the National Guard Youth Challenge Academy and using it in his restaurant is the charge against Jerry Howard, 51, the former Youth Challenge cafeteria manager.
Monday State Auditor Stacey Pickering’s office issued a demand that Howard pay back $157,385.40 for the stolen food.
The program is run out of Camp Shelby. Not far from there is Howard’s restaurant, Jerry’s Seasoned Food. On May 24, 2014, following a search of the restaurant, and Howard’s personal residence, Howard was arrested by agents from the State Auditor’s Office and charged with grand larceny. During the search, agents found and seized large quantities of food at each location that was purchased by the National Guard.
The Youth ChalleNGe Academy is part of the National Guard Youth Guard Program and serves at-risk male and female youth ages 16-18, said a news release from Pickering’s camp.
“The Youth ChalleNGe Program at Camp Shelby has a long history of being an excellent program that positively impacts young people,” said Pickering. “This was an unfortunate situation where one individual didn’t share in the beliefs and values of the organization of which he was a part of, and used the trust of that program to personally benefit.”
“While I am ethically prohibited from commenting on the specifics of this case or our prosecution of the case, I want to take this opportunity to commend the agents of the State Auditor’s Office for their excellent investigation,” said DA Patricia Burchell.
Pickering said his agents determined that large quantities of invoiced food never appeared on cafeteria menus. While the number of academy participants remained virtually the same, end of the year totals for food purchases increased from $216,000 in 2008 to $306,000 in 2014.