A local woman could be sentenced nearly three centuries behind bars after allegedly defrauding taxpayers out of more than $260,000.
The Union County Grand Jury has indicted Jennifer L. Winn, 40, of 17639 Bear Swamp Rd., Marysville. Winn is charged with aggravated theft, grand theft, two counts of identity fraud, two counts of telecommunications fraud and 52 counts of tampering with records.
Winn operated a state certified daycare center. According to court documents, between December 2012 and December 2015, Winn repeatedly falsified documents sent to the Union County Department of Job and Family Services as well as another organization in charge of supplying federally funded nutritious meals.
Union County Prosecutor Dave Phillips said the Department of Job and Family Services will provide daycare assistance to working individuals who meet certain income requirements. Those parents are issued cards.
“These cards are supposed to be kept by the parents and when the child arrives at the day care, the parent swipes them in and when they leave, the parent swipes them out,” Phillips said.
The prosecutor said Winn would keep the cards for parents. He said while the children did come to the daycare, Winn would allegedly swipe the children in and out when they had not attended. According to court documents, Winn allegedly falsified attendance records, as well as meal and snack reports for children in 26 families.
According to court documents, as a result of the falsified documents and other alleged crimes, Winn received more than $262,000 from the agencies that she was not entitled to.
Phillips said the matter came to light when a parent left Winn’s daycare and went to another. The new provider asked about the card and explained the swipe-in process.
“She didn’t understand anything about how to do that,” Phillips said of the parent.
If convicted, Winn could face more than 295 years in prison.
Phillips said these programs are funded by public dollars and are limited. He said that when someone steals from taxpayers, they are also stealing from those who have legitimate needs.
Phillips said some members of the public already look suspiciously on programs like the day care provision.
“When something like this occurs, it gives credence to those concerns,” Phillips said. “Unfortunately, these are necessary safety nets that protect the most vulnerable, who are trying to become independent and don’t want to rely completely on public programs, but might need a little bit of help to get started on their way.”
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