Lancaster Day Care Owner Gets Prison for Public Assistance Fraud, Must Pay $1 Million in Restitution With Daughters

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A Lancaster day care operator who conspired with her two daughters to fraudulently collect thousands in government assistance by falsely claiming she was providing child care services has been sentenced to four years in state prison, authorities said Wednesday.

Cathy Denice Pullum, 52, and her daughters must also pay $1 million in restitution for the scheme they ran for years with the cooperation of mothers who provided the identities of their children, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

The women would allow Pullum and her two daughters — Ashley Ann Collins, 32, of Lancaster and Taylor Louise Lind, 29, of Palmdale — to falsely report their kids were receiving child care services through Pullum’s business, according to prosecutors. Pullum and her daughters would then collect money for those services from a government assistance program for low-income parents, despite the services never actually being provided.

Mothers who conspired with Pullum’s scheme were also given “a small cash kickback” for their participation, the DA’s office said in a news release. The scam ran from September 2009 to January 2015.

Pullum and her daughters 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 and perjury by declaration and forgery. They later reached a plea agreement with the DA’s office.

On July 29, each of the women pleaded guilty to one felony count of perjury by declaration, admitting to a special allegation of taking more than $500,000 through fraud and embezzlement, prosecutors said.
They must jointly pay about $1.07 million in restitution to the California Department of Education as part of that agreement. They paid about $100,000 of that amount upon entering their pleas last month, prosecutors said.

While Pullum received prison time upon her sentencing Tuesday, Collins and Lind were each sentenced to five years of formal probation, 45 days of community service and two years of electronic monitoring.

Seven women who also took part in the scheme have already pleaded guilty to one felony count of grand theft of personal property. Prosecutors said most of them were sentenced to five years of formal probation while some were required to do community service.

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