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Angel Food Indictment Released

The Wingo family, founders of Angel Food Ministries, and a business associate face a 49-count indictment.

 

According to several media outlets the Wingo family that founded a nationwide food distribution ministry face 49 federal charges including fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundry.

Pastor Joe Wingo, his wife Linda, son Andy and a business associate, Harry Michaels, were indicted this week following a grand jury investigation. The Wingos were reportedly expected to turn themselves in to federal authorities in Macon today. According to Sue McKinney, a spokesperson with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Macon, the Wingos are scheduled to go before Federal Judge Charles Weigle at 2:30 p.m. Friday for a first appearance.

The story first broke on The Walton Tribune Thursday evening when it was reported that a grand jury had handed down the indictment. I, blaming the downturn in the economy. However, the ministry had been under a federal investigation since 2009. The York Daily Mail ran an indepth story in June 2009 outlining some of the Angel Food practices that prompted the investigation.

Angel Food Ministries was started in Walton County in 1994 and grew to a ministry that served more than 500,000 families nationwide. The low cost food boxes were distributed through local churches.

The 49-count Indictment follows, as released by the U.S. Attorney's office. The most serious charges each carry possible 20-year prison sentences.

Michael J. Moore, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, announces that a forty-nine count indictment has been filed against Wesley Joseph Wingo, a/k/a Joe Wingo, Pastor Joe, and PJ; Andrew Wingo, a/k/a Andy Wingo; Linda Wingo a/k/a Pastor Linda; and Harry Michaels regarding Angel Food Ministries. 

Count One alleges that the four Defendants (Joe Wingo, Andy Wingo, Linda Wingo, and

Harry Michaels) conspired with each other and others to commit offenses against the United States, specifically:

1.  Wire Fraud, in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 1343;

2.  Mail Fraud, in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 1341;

3.  Attempt to Commit Fraud, in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 1349;

4.  Theft from an Organization Receiving Federal Funds, in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Sections 666;

5.  Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property, in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Sections 2314; and

6.  Tampering with a Witness, in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Sections 1512.

On Count One each defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of up to 5 years imprisonment, followed by 3 years supervised release; a $250,000 fine, and a $100 mandatory assessment fee. 

Counts Two through Twenty-Four allege that each of the four Defendants committed Wire Fraud, in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 1343, through a scheme to defraud Angel Food Ministries to obtain money and property by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses for their personal benefit.  Each defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment followed by 3 years supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and a $100 mandatory assessment fee per count.

Counts Twenty-Five through Thirty-Nine allege that each of the Defendants committed the offense of Money Laundering, in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 1957, by engaging in monetary transactions in amounts exceeding $10,000, through the use of a financial institution affecting interstate commerce to wire and otherwise process funds which were derived

from wire fraud, mail fraud, theft, and interstate transportation of stolen funds.  Each defendant faces a maximum possible sentence up to 10 years imprisonment followed by 3 years supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and a mandatory $100 assessment per count.

Count Forty alleges that each of the Defendants committed the offense of Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering, in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 1956(h), by conspiring to knowingly conduct and attempt to conduct financial transactions involving proceeds derived from illegal activities.  Each defendant faces a possible maximum possible sentence up to 20 years imprisonment followed by 3 years supervised release, a $500,000 fine, and a $100 assessment fee.

Count Forty-One alleges that Defendants Joe and Linda Wingo committed the offense of Theft from an Organization Receiving Federal Funds, in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 666, by unlawfully taking $1,482,035.50 belonging the Angel Food Ministries, and paying that amount as bonuses to Joe Wingo, Linda Wingo, Andy Wingo, and others.  Each defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 10 years imprisonment followed by 3 years supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and a $100 mandatory assessment fee per count. 

Count Forty-Two alleges that Defendant Joe Wingo committed the offense of Theft from an Organization Receiving Federal Funds, in violation of Title 18 United States, Section 666, by using Angel Food Ministries’ funds in the amount of $21,250 to pay bonuses and reimburse employees who, at the direction of Joe Wingo, had made campaign contributions to the candidate selected by Joe Wingo.  He faces a maximum possible sentence of 10 years imprisonment followed by 3 years supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and a $100 mandatory assessment fee per count. 

Count Forty-Three alleges that Defendants Joe Wingo, Andy Wingo, and Harry Michaels committed the offense of Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property, in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 2314, by causing a certain check to be transported, transmitted, and transferred in interstate commerce knowing that the check contained funds that had been stolen, converted and taken by fraud.  Each defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 10 years imprisonment followed by 3 years supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and a $100 mandatory assessment fee.

Count Forty-Four alleges that Defendants Joe Wingo, Andy Wingo and Harry Michaels committed the offense of Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property, in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 2314, by causing a certain check in the amount of $347,864.24, to be transported, transmitted, and transferred in interstate commerce knowing that the check contained funds that had been stolen, converted and taken by fraud.  Each defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 10 years imprisonment followed by 3 years supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and a $100 mandatory assessment fee.

Count Forty-Five alleges that Defendants Joe Wingo, Andy Wingo and Harry Michaels committed the offense of Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property, in violation of Title18 United States Code, Section 2314, by causing a certain check in the amount of $1,154,350.44, to be transported, transmitted, and transferred in interstate commerce knowing that the check contained funds that had been stolen, converted and taken by fraud.  Each defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 10 years imprisonment followed by 3 years supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and a $100 mandatory assessment fee. 

Count Forty-Six alleges that Defendants Joe Wingo, Andy Wingo and Harry Michaels committed the offense of Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property, in violation of Title 18

United States Code, Section 2314, by causing a certain check in the amount of $985,465.64, to be transported, transmitted, and transferred in interstate commerce knowing that the check contained funds that had been stolen, converted and taken by fraud.  Each defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 10 years imprisonment followed by 3 years supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and a $100 mandatory assessment fee. 

Counts Forty-Seven through Forty-Nine allege that Defendant Linda Wingo committed the offense of Tampering with Witnesses and Obstruction of Justice, in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 1512.  She faces a maximum possible sentence of 20 years imprisonment followed by 3 years of supervised release; a $250,000 fine; a $100 mandatory assessment fee per count.

The Indictment also contains a forfeiture notice.

                United States Attorney Michael Moore stated, “As alleged in the indictment, these Defendants raised money in the name of Christian charity, and then used a number of schemes to defraud the organization.”

                An indictment is only an accusation, and the accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty at trial.

Patricia Cochran December 03, 2011 at 11:37 PM
So sad to see such a terrible thing happen to an organization that helped so many. Maybe someone else will pick up the torch and start another. Times are worse now than they were at Angel Food's inception and people need more help than ever. Thanks for keeping us up to date.
Malinda December 04, 2011 at 04:13 PM
praying for the wingo's and especially the other family members that are having to be strong through this. it was a great ministry that helped many. praying for the families that still need help making it day to day.
Sherrie Saunders December 04, 2011 at 04:37 PM
We first met the Wingo 'family" in the mid 90's as we began a search for a church "home". Emmanuel Praise Church was small and friendly. Angel Food Ministries began some years prior. When we inquired of Pastor Joe Wingo if an annual "church assembly and reporting" as it related to financial accounting and other ministry projects" things changed rapidly. We were told those things were overseen" by the "family". We asked for a second meeting with BOTH Pastors (Joe and Linda) Wingo; my message left was returned by Pastor Linda Wingo. I was told it would be best if we did not return to fellowship. We relocated back to WI in 2000 and have followed the "ministry from afar". It is sad that people who came to be "fed" the Word of Truth were “cast out” if they wouldn't go with the flow, follow the leaders and faithfully pay their tithes and offerings. The Wingo “family” is blight on the name of Christianity. The Angel Food ministry DID help many thousands of family with food but to take what was intended (including a huge amount of government funds and re-directed it for personal gain) is unconscionable. We have no doubt indictments will prove accurate. The Wingo "family" deserves God's justice for their deception, greed and use of God's Word for personal gain; we couldn’t be more sincere. Chris and Sherrie Saunders, Sun Prairie, WI

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