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One year jail for childcare-fraud suspect

A court gavel
A court gavel

MILWAUKEE (WSAU)  The owner of a Milwaukee day care center has become the third member of her family to be sent to prison, for defrauding the state’s child care program for the working poor.

70-year-old Shirley Howard was sentenced yesterday to one year in prison, for getting at least $178,000 in false reimbursements from the Wisconsin Shares program. Prosecutors said she over-billed the state for children in her care, and claimed reimbursements for kids who never went to her center. Howard must also spend a year-and-a-half under extended supervision once she leaves prison.

Her daughter and grandson were also given prison terms for defrauding Wisconsin Shares – which is supposed to low-income parents keep jobs by having the state pick up their child care bills.

Auditors later found over $20-million in fraud, which resulted in a crackdown on the reimbursement system. State officials say about $100-million has been saved since then. Over 30 people have been criminally charged with defrauding Wisconsin Shares – and over 200 centers suspected of bilking the program have been shut down.