FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 2, 2009Media Contact:
Former Class A Day Care Owner Pleads Guilty in Child Care Assistance Program Fraud Case
ALEXANDRIA - A joint investigation by the Louisiana Department of Social Services (DSS) Fraud & Recovery Section and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations (HHS-OIG-OI) has resulted in a former Louisiana day care operator pleading guilty to a charge of mail fraud.
Pamela Gorden, age 50, former Owner and Operator of Gorden's Daycare and Learning Center, Ferriday, Louisiana, was indicted in October 2008 on 11 counts of mail fraud and 9 counts of making false claims in order to defraud the DSS, Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) of at least $130,000 from January 2002 through July 2007.
"DSS is committed to combating fraud and abuse within our systems. Reducing fraud and abuse was identified in an internal audit as a key step for DSS to provide services more efficiently and increase cost-savings in our programs," said DSS Secretary Kristy Nichols. "Fraudulent activity will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. False claims for payments reduce the funds we have available to provide assistance to families and children in Louisiana who need our services."
Gorden entered a guilty plea to one count of mail fraud before U.S. District Judge Dee D. Drell in Alexandria on June 30, 2009. During the plea hearing, a Special Agent with HHS-OIG testified that Gorden submitted falsified invoices to the State of Louisiana, CCAP, billing for children who did not attend the daycare and over-billing for those who didn't attend as frequently as claimed.
"HHS-OIG-OI has established a valuable partnership with DSS's Fraud & Recovery Section, and will continue to coordinate enforcement efforts to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse in federally funded grant programs" says Mike Fields, Special Agent in Charge, Dallas Regional Office.
The maximum punishment for one count of mail fraud is a term of imprisonment of not more than twenty (20) years, a fine of not more than $250,000, or both. As part of her plea agreement, Gorden will pay the Court $100 per count in addition to the fine assessed as part of her sentence. In addition, Gorden may be ordered to make restitution payments as ordered by the Court.
Gorden was placed on bond pending her sentencing hearing set for Sept. 18, 2009, at 1:30 p.m. in Alexandria.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Allison Bushnell for U.S. Attorney Donald Washington's office.
Licensed Class A day care centers, which provide care to seven or more unrelated children, are regulated and monitored by DSS' Bureau of Licensing. According to the "Class A Center Provider Agreement," which licensed centers must sign, providers must keep a daily attendance record for each child participating in CCAP including arrival and departure times. Providers must notify DSS immediately when any CCAP participating child is removed from the center's care and report absences of five consecutive days so that payment can be discontinued.
To receive CCAP payments, providers must submit monthly invoices to DSS indicating the number of days or hours that each child attended the day care and the days or hours that each child was absent.
Individuals are encouraged to report cases of suspected fraud in the Food Stamp Program, Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program, the Child Care Assistance Program, or the Kinship Care Program by calling the DSS toll-free hotline at 1-800-256-3150 or by visiting the website at www.dss.louisiana.gov/ReportFraud