Four people plead guilty to mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering charges

Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) –Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Boyle said four individuals have pleaded guilty over the past three months to mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering charges.

According to her, these charges related to schemes involving the submissions of fraudulent claims for childcare services to the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS), resulting in a loss of around $1,300,000 to the State of Illinois and the United States.

Boyle said the individuals are 42-year-old Tarnavis Lee, 42-year-old Demetra Jackson, 40-year-old LaShanda Hudson and 47-year-old Elizabeth McFarland.

According to DHS officials, they administered the Child Care Assistance Program, which was partially funded by the federal government. The program paid for childcare services for low-income parents while they worked or participated in approved educational programs.

Boyle explained that each of the individuals charged engaged in schemes to defraud DHS by submitting claims for childcare services that were not provided or not provided to the extent claimed.  As part of their schemes, Lee and Hudson also paid a total of more than $160,000 in kickback payments to parents participating in the program in exchange for the parents allowing their personal information and that of their children to be used to submit false and fraudulent childcare claims to DHS.

On Sept. 8, Lee pleaded guilty pursuant to a plea agreement to two counts of mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud, and two counts of money laundering, as charged in two separate indictments. As part of the plea agreement, she agreed that she caused a loss to the United States and the State of Illinois of $913,390.66.  Lee’s sentencing is scheduled for January 6, 2022.

On Oct. 12, Jackson pleaded guilty pursuant to a plea agreement to one count of wire fraud. As part of the plea agreement, she agreed that she caused a loss to the United States and the State of Illinois of approximately $250,000.  Her sentencing is scheduled for February 9, 2022.

On Oct. 25, McFarland pleaded guilty pursuant to a plea agreement to one count of wire fraud. As part of the plea agreement, she agreed that she caused a loss to the United States and the State of Illinois of $228,301.31.  Her sentencing is scheduled for February 24, 2022.

On Nov. 3, Hudson pleaded guilty pursuant to a plea agreement to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering.  As part of the plea agreement, she agreed that she caused a loss to the United States and the State of Illinois of $421,875.97.  Her sentencing is scheduled for March 4, 2022.

The statutory penalties for each count of mail and wire fraud are up to 20 years of imprisonment, 3 years of supervised release, up to a $250,000 fine and a mandatory $100 special assessment. The statutory penalties for each count of money laundering are up to 20 years of imprisonment; up to 3 years of supervised release; a fine up to $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transactions, whichever is greater, or both and a mandatory $100 special assessment.

All defendants remain free on bond pending sentencing. The scheduled sentencings are set to take place at the federal courthouse in Springfield.

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