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February 28, 2013

Prison Terms Loom for Shuttered Ga. Food Charity's Leaders

Two members of the family that founded now-defunct antihunger charity Angel Food Ministries face up to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to federal money-laundering charges, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes, citing reporting by the local Walton Tribune.

Joe Wingo and his son, Andy, were remanded to custody after admitting Monday to one count each of conspiracy to commit money-laundering. Linda Wingo, wife and mother of the co-defendants, admitted to concealing a felony and will be put on probation, and a business associate, Harry Michaels, could serve up to five years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Started by the Wingos as a local charity to help laid-off millworkers, Monroe, Ga.-based Angel Food grew into a $140-million national operation that sold deeply discounted groceries to the needy through a network of churches. It shut down in September 2011, citing financial woes and the damage to its image arising from federal queries into the founding family's spending and compensation.

The Wingos and Mr. Michaels were indicted in December 2011 on charges that they used the charity's money to buy vintage cars, jewelry, and other personal items and instructed employees to donate bonuses to political campaigns.