Named in the indictments are Tarnavis A. Lee, 41, owner of Lee’s Toddler Town, Inc.; Demetra M. Jackson, 41, owner of Jitter Bugs, Inc.; Elizabeth McFarland, 46, owner of Tater Tots, Inc.; and LaShanda Hudson, 39, owner of a daycare business in her name. The four women are charged with multiple counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. It is unclear if they have acquired legal representation.
According to court filings, each of the four women owns and operates a licensed daycare center in Chicago. They are accused of submitting false claims to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) for payment of child care services they never provided or never provided to the extent they claimed.
The CCAP is administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services to provide low-income parents or parents transitioning from educational programs such as high school, college, etc. with child care services. The program is funded by state funds and block grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Lee, Jackson, and McFarland allegedly submitted claims to the CCAP from March 2016 to April 2019 with false information about the parents’ eligibility and the type of services they provided.
The first indictment claims Lee falsified the number of hours children spent at her daycare center, the number and names of children, the location where the services were provided, and the employment and income of the parents. CCAP payments were deposited into accounts she and Jackson controlled, the indictment alleges. Once they received the money, more than half of the amount was allegedly transferred into accounts only Lee controlled. The indictment also accuses Lee of paying kickbacks to parents. Ultimately, Lee and Jackson purportedly submitted claims for approximately $312,000 and received $140,000 from the government.
Lee and McFarland are charged in a second indictment for allegedly orchestrating a similar fraud scheme from June 2009 to April 2019. The pair reportedly submitted false claims for payment to the CCAP, split the payments, and paid kickbacks to parents. They submitted claims for approximately $1.5 million and the government paid out $800,000, according to the indictment.
The third indictment charges Hudson for operating a similar scheme from January 2009 to November 2019. She allegedly submitted false information regarding parents’ eligibility as well as falsified information about the type of services and the extent of services her daycare business provided. She also made kickback payments to parents who claimed to be her clients, the indictment said. In total, she submitted claims for $734,000 and received an estimated $400,000 from the government, sources indicate.
Each of the four women will receive a summons to appear for arraignment in court in Springfield. If convicted, they face a maximum statutory penalty of up to 20 years in prison for each count of mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering.
As you can see, federal fraud charges carry severe penalties, which is why anyone accused of committing white collar offenses on a federal level should immediately contact an attorney who can explain what federal statutes apply to your particular case and help you build a good defense.
South Florida Fraud Defense Attorney