Nigerian Immigrant Pleads Guilty to Day Care Fraud Scheme
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Nigerian owner of a day care center in Kansas City, Mo., pleaded guilty in federal court today to submitting false information to the government as part of a fraud scheme to receive federal child care subsidies.
Hauwa Al-Hassan, 49, of Raymore, Mo., pleaded guilty before U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Kays to making false statements to the government.
Al-Hassan, a Nigerian immigrant, is the owner and CEO of Guidance Child Care Center, LLC, a child day care center at 8101 E. Bannister Rd., Kansas City, Mo. Al-Hassan is also the vice president of Guidance Academy of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
By pleading guilty today, Al-Hassan admitted that she engaged in a pattern of fraudulent billing in order to receive funding to which she was not entitled under the federal Child Care and Development Fund grant program. Al-Hassan filed claims that reported more hours and children than actually attended her daycare center.
The Child Care and Development Fund provides daycare subsidies for low-income families where the parents are employed or engaged in job training. Providers, such as Guidance, contract with the Children’s Division of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and submit claims electronically. Al-Hassan signed a contract with the Missouri Department of Social Services on May 3, 2010, to operate Guidance as a licensed childcare center providing childcare services to low-income families.
Al-Hassan admitted that she deliberately filed false attendance reports for children for more hours than they actually attended Guidance, causing a loss totaling $74,000. Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Al-Hassan must pay that amount in restitution to the Department of Health and Human Services. She must pay $10,000 of that restitution amount prior to her sentencing hearing.
Since 2013, Guidance has been audited formally or informally by the state on four occasions. Each audit found many hours inaccurately billed for childcare services. Based on Guidance’s history of billing for services not rendered and sharing of employees and billed children with other daycares believed to be running fraud schemes on the CCDF program, two pole cameras were installed near Guidance from Feb. 11, 2016 to March 20, 2016. One camera focused on the front doors of Guidance; the second camera showed the parking lot and rear doors. All doors in and out were covered by a pole camera. Timesheets submitted with the billing were compared with the information on the timesheets to the children seen on the pole cameras being dropped off and picked up from Guidance during that time. There were significant discrepancies between the timesheets submitted and the pole camera footage.
This case is the result of a nationwide sweep that targeted childcare center fraud schemes. The national law enforcement operation in Missouri and six other states was the result of separate, but related, federal investigations into childcare center fraud that resulted in a loss of more than $1 million to the government.
Under federal statutes, Al-Hassan is subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rudolph R. Rhodes, IV. It was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, the FBI, the Missouri Department of Social Services – Division of Legal Services Investigations, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department and the Raymore, Mo., Police Department.