Former Manager of Mescalero Apache Tribe Owned Childcare Center Pleads Guilty to Theft Charge
ALBUQUERQUE – The former manager of Team Members Childcare Center (TMCC), a childcare center owned by the Mescalero Apache Tribe and operated at the Inn of the Mountain Gods (IMG) on behalf of its employees that require childcare pled guilty today in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to a theft of government money charge.
Gina McPherson, 49, of Capitan, N.M., was arrested on May 1, 2017, and was charged by criminal complaint with theft of public money. According to the criminal complaint, McPherson committed the crime from Sept. 2011 through Jan. 2016, on the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation in Otero County, N.M. McPherson was the manager of TMCC from March 2011 through her resignation in Dec. 2015. During her time as manager, McPherson enrolled TMCC into the Child and Adult Food Care Program (CACFP) administered by the State of New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD), which enables qualifying childcare centers to provide meals to children from eligible families free of charge. Within a few months of McPherson’s resignation, IMG management became aware that TMCC was not receiving meal reimbursement funds from CACFP although CYFD records showed that funds had been disbursed to TMCC since Aug. 2011. Further investigation revealed that CYFD paid over $400,000 to McPherson for TMCC meals consumed by TMCC children from Aug. 2011 through Jan. 2016.
During today’s proceedings, McPherson pled guilty to an information charging her with theft of government money. In entering the guilty plea, McPherson admitted that while she was employed by IMG in Mescalero, N.M., as the manager for a child daycare program, she stole more than $400,000 in federal funds that were intended as reimbursement for meals consumed by children attending the daycare program. McPherson also admitted that, unbeknownst to IMG management, she enrolled the daycare attendees in a meal reimbursement program administered by CYFD which used funds disbursed by the federal Food and Drug Administration. The meal reimbursement checks went directly to McPherson and she converted those funds to her own use.
At sentencing, McPherson faces a maximum penalty of ten years in federal prison. A sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled.
This case was investigated by the Las Cruces office of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron O. Jordan of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.