Day care involved in van crash accused of fraud
July 28, 2012 - A state investigation into a Louisville day care that was involved in a deadly van crash found the business was falsifying attendance records to overbill a government child-care subsidy program from low-income working families.
The Courier-Journal reported ( http://cjky.it/MSi1cu) the investigation's findings into Heavenly Angels Childcare were filed Friday in Jefferson Circuit Court.
The investigation said former employees and parents said owner Lavonia Lewars paid money to one parent and falsified records about children who were attending the day care. Lewars was indicted in July on charges of engaging in a fraudulent scheme tor plan to obtain public assistance benefits and theft by deception exceeding $10,000.
Lewars is scheduled to be arraigned on Monday morning.
The June 12 wreck involving a van from Heavenly Angels killed one woman and injured the driver and 14 children. The Louisville Metro Police have said the crash may have been caused by a blown tire.
The day care's three locations have been closed since the wreck.
According to the records filed in court, the state began investigating allegations of overbilling the public assistance program about six months before the crash.
An audit by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services claims that the day care was overpaid $306,188 through 2011 from the Child Care Assistance Program.
According to the cabinet, the three licensed day care centers got a total of $847,000 from the program.
One parent, who was identified as Jocelyn Mask, told investigators that one of her three children attended the day care for about a year. Lewars paid her $200 twice so that the day care could bill the subsidy program for all three of her children, according to the investigation.
The former office manager, Phyllis Coleman, told an investigator that Lewars didn't keep a book for signing in children, but had parents sign their names when children were first enrolled and was making copies of their signatures, according to the investigation.
Coleman said employees were told to fill in dates for the children's enrollment as they "see fit."
She also said that Lewars would send the children of Somali women home early if the day care had exceeded the mandated staff-to-child ratio, but still claim the children had attended for the entire day.
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