For Immediate Release
April 16, 2010
Contact: Erika Monroe-Kane, Department of Children and Families, 608-266-9000
David Feiss, Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office, (414) 278-4646
Department of Children and Families Secretary Reggie Bicha
Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm
Announce Criminal Charges for Shares Fraud
Reggie Bicha, Secretary of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and John Chisholm, Milwaukee District Attorney, announced today that criminal charges have been filed against a Milwaukee County child care provider. The complaint filed today charges Beatrice Johnson with one felony count of theft by fraud. The complaint alleges Ms. Johnson, owner of Bee's Day Care, fraudulently claimed more than $35,000 in Wisconsin's Shares benefits, the State’s subsidized child care for low-income working parents.
"The Task Force's efforts to crack down on Wisconsin Shares fraud are clearly having an impact. Through investigation and hard work, we are able to hold individuals accountable and criminally charge those who have been stealing taxpayer dollars," said District Attorney Chisholm.
This charge is a result of collaborative work by the Milwaukee Joint Child Care Anti-Fraud Task Force. The Task Force, led by the Department of Children and Families and the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office, is a joint effort that also includes the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Milwaukee Police Department, Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department, Wisconsin Department of Revenue, Internal Revenue Service, and Milwaukee County Human Services Department. Including the most recent charges, five charges have been filed as a result of the Task Force's work.
"DCF is committed to cleaning up fraud in the Wisconsin Shares program and to improving child care across the state," said Secretary Bicha. "As we shut down fraudulent providers and recover stolen taxpayer dollars, we are able to invest in improving the quality of care Milwaukee children receive."
Beatrice Johnson, who operated Bee's Day Care, was suspended from the Wisconsin Shares program by DCF in September of 2009 due to a suspicion of fraud. As a result of a six month investigation, the criminal complaint details several examples of alleged fraud including:
- A review of DCF records showed that Bee's Day Care billed at a higher rate per authorized child care slot than any other day care provider in the state. She billed three times more than a typical day care facility.
- Nine of the parents and employees interviewed indicated that the day care was not open on Saturdays, yet DCF records indicate that Bee's Day Care billed for children attending on Saturdays.
- One employee stated that she was hired with the understanding that Ms. Johnson would pay her $200 every two weeks, but she was not actually required to work, nor were her children required to attend the day care.
The charge in the complaint is only an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
"Fraud on the taxpayers of Wisconsin will not be tolerated," Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said.
DCF is working aggressively to identify and eliminate fraud in the Wisconsin Shares program. DCF launched a Fraud Detection and Investigation Unit that investigates and stops payments to those committing fraud in the Wisconsin Shares system. A DCF child care fraud hotline began last year and has led to suspensions and referrals to law enforcement. To report suspicions of fraud, call the DCF hotline at (877) 302-FRAUD or visit the DCF Web site at www.dcf.wisconsin.gov to directly submit tips to our fraud detection and prevention unit.
"Individuals who inflate their paychecks by falsifying records are stealing from Wisconsin taxpayers and ignoring the crucial importance of high quality early childhood education, particularly for low income working families," said Henry Wilde, DCF Deputy Secretary and Task Force Co-Chair. "These charges – and there will be more to come from the Task Force – should make providers think again before they abuse the Wisconsin Shares program."
In addition, Child Care Fraud Task Forces have been launched in Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha counties. Through the cooperation and combined investigative efforts, the task force provides additional resources to pursue fraud tips.
Governor Doyle created DCF to refocus, retool, and reprioritize programs to improve the lives of children and families. With this charge, DCF has taken action to rebuild the foundation of child care and is now building on this to improve the quality of child care across the state.
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