Fake pay stubs, false claims of service and tax manipulations netted four supposed child care providers $4 million in public money – with more than $3 million of that coming from a fund meant to help low-income families pay for child care, the Ramsey County Attorney's Office said.
Charges against Yasmin Abdulle Ali, Ahmed Aden Mohamed, Joshua John Miller and Jordan Christopher Smith outline what authorities say was a deliberate, orchestrated effort to avoid paying some taxes while pulling in millions from the Minnesota Child Care Assistance Program from 2009-2013.
The program can help families pay child care costs for children up to the age of 12, (if a child was special needs, the age limit goes up to 14 years old). It helps cover the cost of putting the child with a legal care provider, allowing the parent to go to work, look for a job, or go to school.
“Some 6,900 struggling families are waiting for help to pay for child care and many more Minnesotans rely on PCA services for help with basic tasks most of us take for granted," Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson said. "When this type of fraud occurs, it makes it that much harder to meet their needs.”
Ali (33 years old, of Fridley) and Miller (31, of St. Paul) both are scheduled to make their first court appearance Thursday. Smith will be in court Jan. 7. A warrant has been issued for Mohamed's arrest.
Details from the charges
According to the attorney's office:
Three of the men – Ali, Mohamed and Miller – operated two businesses: All Nations Home Health Care LLC, and Deqo Family Center.
At Deqo's two locations (in Minneapolis and St. Paul), Ali and Mohamed recruited parents to work for them, in exchange for their child enrolling at the care center. (To qualify for the Child Care Assistance Program money, a parent has to work 20 hours a week.)
The defendants then overstated work hours on pay stubs, routinely did not pay parents until they had received the assistance program money, and created fake pay stubs.
In all, the assistance program paid Deqo more than $3 million from April 2012 to January 2013.
At the All Nations business, the defendants claimed a personal care assistant did work for them, and they received $500,000 in Medicaid assistance because of it. But the personal care assistant did not actually provide those services.
In addition, the defendants used a number of illegal tactics to avoid paying taxes, resulting in a total current liability (which includes penalties and built-up interest) of more than $200,000.