Couple Indicted for Defrauding State Child Care Assistance Program Through Cicero Day Care Centers
|U.S. Attorney’s Office October 19, 2012|
CHICAGO—A former Chicago couple who were involved with a series of daycare centers in suburban Cicero that participated in a state child care assistance program were indicted on federal charges for obtaining fraudulent state subsidy payments. The defendants allegedly fraudulently obtained Child Care Assistance Program subsidy payments from the state of Illinois by submitting false information to receive the benefits for a succession of three child care centers.
Herman Jackson owned one of the child care centers, St. Peters Christian Academy, until it closed in April 2004, and he was also involved in the operation of Jubilee Daycare Center, which closed in August 2008, and ABC Cicero Kids, which closed in February 2011. Jackson is also bishop of the Ark of Safety Apostolic Faith Temple, in Cicero, where each of the day care centers was housed.
Jackson, 36, of suburban Summit and Canton, Georgia, was arrested Wednesday and released on his own recognizance with electronic monitoring after pleading not guilty to the charges.
Jackson’s wife, Jannette Faria, 36, also of Canton, Georgia, and formerly of Chicago, is scheduled to be arraigned at 9:45 a.m. on Monday before U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman in Federal Court in Chicago. Faria was the nominal owner of ABC Cicero.
Jackson was charged with 12 counts of mail or wire fraud and two counts of making false statements, and Faria was charged with eight counts of wire or mail fraud and one count of making false statements in a 15-count federal grand jury indictment that was unsealed after Jackson arrested.
The charges were announced today by Gary S. Shapiro, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and William C. Monroe, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The state Child Care Assistance Program, funded through the Illinois Department of Human Services, provides low-income working families with affordable child care. Eligible families are required to pay a portion of the cost of child care on a sliding scale according to family size, income, and number of children in care, with the state paying the remaining cost of child care services. Illinois Action for Children, a resource and referral agency in Cook County, contracts with IDHS to oversee and administer the Child Care Assistance Program locally. Each family eligible for subsidy payments is required to make a co-payment directly to the child care provider, which, in turn, submits reports to the local agency seeking payment for the remaining portion of services.
According to the indictment, Jackson prepared and submitted false applications on behalf of parents seeking approval to receive subsidy payments. Jackson knew that many of these applications contained false information regarding a client’s employment and income, the amount of time a child would spend at the child care center, and the number and names of children attending the center. Jackson further submitted reports falsely representing the name of number of children attending St. Peters and Jubilee child care centers, the number of days attended, and whether full or part-time to obtain subsidy payments that he was not entitled to receive. Jackson and Faria similarly submitted false information regarding enrollments at ABC Cicero, the indictment alleges.
Jackson’s temple operated a program called Single Moms Ministry, which he used to identify parents who were potentially eligible to receive subsidy payments. The indictment alleges that he required ministry participants to have at least two children enrolled at ABC Cicero who were eligible for child care subsidy, and he directed certain ministry participants to complete applications for Child Care Assistance Program benefits.
The defendants also allegedly lied to federal agents in 2011 when they were questioned about their participation in the subsidy program and their operation of the child care centers.
The indictment does not specify the amount of state funds that were allegedly fraudulently obtained, nor the number of children for whom false certifications were submitted. It does seek forfeiture of an unspecified amount of proceeds from the fraud scheme.
Each count of mail and wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine or an alternate fine totaling twice the loss or twice the gain, whichever is greater. Each count of making false statements carries a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy DePodesta.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.