A former program director in USDA’s civil rights office and his nephew have been charged with fraud and conspiracy as the result of a scheme allegedly involving phony jobs and kickbacks.

Kirk Perry of Lorain, Ohio, and Jamarea Grant of Cleveland were arrested and released on bond last week.

From August 2015 through November 2022, Perry was a supervisory equal opportunity specialist who led the Employment Adjudication Division of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights.

Perry arranged for his nephew to be hired by two companies that had contracts with the Office of Civil Rights, the indictment alleges. Grant received nearly $400,000 “for work he did not do, and, in return, kicked back approximately $125,000 to Perry as part of the criminal scheme,” the Justice Department said in a news release.

                Cut through the clutter! We deliver the news you need to stay informed about farm, food and rural issues. Sign up for a FREE month of Agri-Pulse here.

“If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison for the charged offenses of Money, Property, and Honest Services Wire Fraud, and Conspiracy to Commit Money, Property, and Honest Services Wire Fraud,” DOJ said. 

The case was investigated by USDA’s Office of Inspector General, Sensitive Investigations Office.