LANCASTER – The operator of a Lancaster daycare center and her two daughters have been sentenced and ordered to pay $1 million in restitution for fraudulently collecting government child care assistance funds in a multi-year scheme, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.
Cathy Denice Pullum, 52, of Lancaster was sentenced on Aug. 20 to four years in state prison, while her daughters — 33-year-old Ashley Ann Collins of Lancaster and 29-year-old Taylor Louise Lind of Palmdale — each received five years of formal probation, 45 days of community service and two years of electronic monitoring.
The three women were charged in February 2017 with 72 felony counts, including conspiracy to commit grand theft of child care funds, grand theft of child care funds, perjury by declaration and forgery.
All three pleaded guilty on July 29 to one felony count of perjury by declaration and admitted a special allegation of taking more than $500,000 through fraud and embezzlement.
Under the terms of the negotiated plea agreement, they were ordered to pay a total of $1.07 million in restitution, for which they are jointly liable, to the California Department of Education. The women paid $100,000 of the amount when they entered their plea.
From September 2009 to January 2015, the defendants recruited mothers who allowed their children’s identities to be used for a child care fraud scheme, said Deputy District Attorney Bita Ahdoot of the Public Assistance Fraud Division.
The defendants falsely reported that the families received child care services through Pullum’s business, and then they collected money through a government assistance program for low-income parents, the prosecutor added. As part of the scheme, the trio also gave their co-conspirator families a small cash kickback.
Seven mothers who participated in the scheme were convicted in separate cases, each pleading guilty to one felony count of grand theft of personal property. Most have been sentenced to five years of formal probation, and in some cases, were required to do community service.
The cases were investigated by the District Attorney’s Office, Bureau of Investigation.