Learning Community Candidate, Omaha Training Center Director Charged With Alleged Fraud | Nebraska

A week ago, Brenda Banks took the win for District 1 of the Douglas and Sarpy Counties Learning Community, doubling her closest competitor’s vote total.

Brenda Banks

The 60-year-old Omaha woman was charged with eight counts of wire fraud and one count of bank fraud on Wednesday in connection with allegations that she abused at least $202,000 of the $464,000 grant for its Omaha training center. Banks is the longtime director of the nonprofit Cross Training Center, 5030 N. 72nd St., which specializes in off-the-shelf programs for ex-convicts or the poor or adults who have struggled with addiction. .

A federal grand jury, guided by prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nebraska, alleged that Banks altered the checks with correction fluid and made them look like they had been used for legitimate purposes under grants. she had received from government agencies, including the Federal Paycheck Protection Program. These PPP loans were designed as a bridge to help organizations continue to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a brief phone call with the World-Herald, Banks said the allegations were false.

“None of that is true at all,” she said. “Everything was used legitimately.”

In a recent interview with strictlybusinessomaha.com, Banks said his 23-year-old leadership of the Cross Training Center is “driven by God’s declaration that he has a plan to give every person hope and a future. Faith has always been the foundation of my vision for this organization to help individuals find their way to success.

Banks, a Republican, defeated three other candidates for the Learning Community in the May primary. His latest Facebook post shows photos of Donald Trump’s rally in Greenwood for Charles W. Herbster, who was running for governor of Nebraska. After a storm forecast moved the rally from a Friday to a Sunday, Banks posted a photo of the event with the caption, “I will be back on Sunday!! Two parties in one weekend! She also hosted an Omaha event for Herbster and former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway in August 2021 at the Cross Training Center.

In another Facebook entry, she posted a viral meme asking what you would do if someone stole $10 from an account with $86,400. “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” Banks wrote. “Pass!”

Federal prosecutors allege Banks’ actions did not involve small things. Banks, who has no criminal record, faces up to 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud and up to 30 years in prison for the bank fraud count.

The indictment says most of the alleged fraud involved subsidies for recycling electronic devices such as computers and for vehicles used to train future mechanics.

According to the indictment:

From mid-April 2018 to late 2019, the banks submitted applications and other documents to the Nebraska Environmental Trust to obtain money through “false and fraudulent claims, representations and promises”. She received $220,000 from the trust to “manage electronic collection and recycling events.” She was required to submit documents, but instead sent “altered check images and fictitious invoices.”

Federal investigators listed $153,000 in fraudulent receipts from that period.

Around the same time, from April 2018 to August 2019, the banks submitted “several fraudulently altered documents” to another state agency, the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy.

“Banks fraudulently altered check images by ‘whitewashing’ the names of other entities or organizations,” the grand jury wrote. “The banks then presented the images of the altered checks to the NDEE so that the NDEE would believe that Banks was using (the) funds for purposes authorized by the grant agreements when in fact she was not.”

The banks also submitted payroll documents to make it appear that his agency had “paid certain employees … when in fact it had not,” the indictment said.

It is unclear what the indictment will mean for his general election prospects. Banks said she was unaware of the indictment until contacted by a reporter. She is due to make her first appearance in federal court in mid-June.

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