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Day care owner facing federal fraud, tax evasion charges

February 1, 2021 GMT

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — A Delaware day care owner has been indicted on federal charges of fraud and tax evasion.

The indictment was handed down last week charging 56-year-old Brenda Mathis of Wilmington with wire fraud, theft of government money and tax evasion.

Authorities say Mathis inflated attendance records for her day care center, L.J.’s Playpen Academy, Inc., to increase subsidies and payments she received from two federally funded programs. The Purchase of Care Program helps eligible, low-income families pay for childcare by providing subsidies to a day care provider of their choice. The Delaware Stars for Early Success Program disperses payments to day care providers based on the quality of service.

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Prosecutors also allege that Mathis underreported income from the day care center, including income received from the subsidy programs, for tax years 2015 through 2017.

If convicted on all charges, Mathis faces a maximum of 45 years in prison.

The court docket did not immediately include attorney information for Mathis.

In 2015, Mathis filed a lawsuit against several Wilmington police officers alleging that they unlawfully detained and arrested her and violated her rights after she interfered in a traffic stop involving her son in the parking lot of the day care center.

A federal judge granted summary judgment to the defendants on all counts, noting that video footage contradicted Mathis’ version of events and showed that she was “both very emotional and uncooperative,” and that the force used by police while arresting her was reasonable.

Mathis was charged in that incident with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. The charges were later dismissed because the police officers failed to appear at her trial.

Six weeks after filing the lawsuit, Mathis signed a contract with the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services to provide childcare services to low-income families through the Purchase of Care program.