Woman arrested in Hazlehurst child care fraud scheme

Coleman is accused of making fraudulent claims to MDHS for children who were not enrolled in the childcare service she directed at the time she filed the claims.

Woman arrested in Hazlehurst child care fraud scheme
Jan Coleman; Source: State Auditor

HAZLEHURST, Miss. (WLBT) - The former director of the Hazlehurst United Methodist Church Child Care and Preschool after she was indicted for child care fraud scheme.

According to State Auditor Shad White, special agents arrested Jan Coleman after she was indicted for one count of fraud in connection with a state or federally funded program and one county of embezzlement by a grand jury.

At the time of her arrest, agents delivered a demand letter worth $10,187.53 to Coleman for the cost of the investigation.

The Early Childhood Care & Development division of the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) administers public funds directly to childcare providers to subsidize the cost to qualified families.

Coleman is accused of making fraudulent claims to MDHS for children who were not enrolled in the childcare service she directed at the time she filed the claims.

She allegedly submitted multiple fraudulent claims worth over $75,000 from November 2014 to July 2018.

Hazlehurst United Methodist Church Child Care & Preschool fired Coleman in July 2018. The alleged fraud was discovered and self-reported by the childcare provider. The case was originally investigated by MDHS. It was referred to the Auditor’s office by the Mississippi Attorney General.

To recover the loss of public funds, MDHS is withholding funding from the childcare provider.

No surety bond covered Coleman’s employment. A surety bond is similar to insurance designed to protect taxpayers from embezzlement and corruption. Coleman will remain liable for the full amount of the demand in addition to criminal charges.

If convicted, Coleman faces up to 13 years in prison and $35,000 in fines.

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