Former Edward Waters Administrators
Involved in Alleged Black Farmers’ Fund Fraud
An Ohio woman has been arrested on charges that she conspired with two former Edward Waters College administrators to collect $400,000 from a national settlement reached with Black farmers who had wrongly been denied government loans.
Kimberly Colston Woodruff, 43, was arrested at her home in Columbus, Ohio. She pleaded not guilty to five fraud and conspiracy counts before a federal magistrate in Jacksonville.
Former Edward Waters administrators Emma Okari Brooks and Daniel Anekwu have each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and face up to 10 years in prison. Woodruff faces a maximum of 30 years if convicted, says Assistant U.S. Attorney John Sciortino.
Woodruff, formerly of Tallahassee, is accused of posing as Anekwu’s wife and using her name, along with the names of her son and her mother, on false settlement applications to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, then splitting the profits with Brooks. Brooks’ attorney says a group from Arkansas that spoke at Black churches nationwide promoted the farm loan settlement as a legal way to get compensated for past discrimination, even for those with only ancestral ties to farming.
The 1999 Pigford v. Glickman settlement was aimed at resolving complaints from Black farmers who said they had been systemically denied government loans because of their race. With minimal documentation, they could get payments of $50,000, but could receive more if they could show overt discrimination.
Woodruff was released and planned to return to Columbus to await trial, Assistant Federal Defender Lynn Palmer Bailey said.
— Associated Press
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