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Woman sentenced to prison in scheme to defraud Twin Cities nonprofit of $684K

She and 12 others have been sentenced in connection to the years-long scheme.

A former program manager with Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis has been sentenced to nearly six years in prison for her role in a scheme to defraud the nonprofit out of more than $600,000.  

Clarissa Lynn Combs, 49, of Brooklyn Park, was sentenced to 71 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $684,081.90 in restitution for conspiring to commit wire fraud and making a false statement, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Monday. She was charged in November, pleaded guilty in December and was sentenced on Monday. 

“Ms. Combs orchestrated a years-long fraud scheme that diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars from some of the most vulnerable members of society, including individuals and families in need of housing. I applaud the work of our investigative partners in bringing this conspiracy to justice,” U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald said in a news release

According to Combs' guilty plea and court documents, between April 2012 and February 2019, Combs and multiple other people devised and participated in a scheme to fraudulently obtain at least $684,081.90 in charitable funds from the nonprofit where they worked.

Combs recruited other employees, her family and her friends to pose as landlords and fake homeless clients, the release says. 

And during the investigation, Combs attempted to conceal their scheme and minimize her involvement by making false statements to federal officials. 

Twelve other people were sentenced in connection to the case. They are: 

  • Shaneka Lashay Mzee, 36, of St. Paul, was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $26,865 in restitution.
  • Leteaste Henry-Davis, 56, of Minneapolis, was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $12,400 in restitution.
  • Sharre Ophilia Rush, 34, of Minneapolis, was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $35,843.25 in restitution.
  • Aisha Lenee Davis, 42, of Minneapolis, was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $87,740.65 in restitution.
  • Jalonda Leeann Combs, 38, of Minneapolis, was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay $117,633 in restitution.
  • Rachael Elizabeth Ekholm, 41, of Richfield, was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and sentenced to six months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $109,080 in restitution.
  • Bridgit Yvette Michaud, 54, of Minneapolis,  was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay $89,000 in restitution.
  •  Audrey Sebiletta Heath, 35, of Ramsey, was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $15,650 in restitution.
  • Aishia Renee Bell, 43, of Minneapolis, was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and sentenced to two years in prison, two years of supervised release and ordered to pay $166,875 in restitution.
  • Anthony Jerome Oliver, 56, of Minneapolis, was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to pay $76,600 in restitution.
  • Neal Burton, 57, of Minneapolis, was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $15,785 in restitution.
  • Tyrone Lamar Burton, 41, of St. Paul, was convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and sentenced to 18 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $166,785 in restitution.

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