The director of a shuttered Minneapolis day-care center has been charged with fraudulently obtaining hundreds of thousands of dollars in child-care subsidies, according to an indictment unsealed late Thursday.
A federal grand jury indicted Fozia Sheik Ali, 50, of Hopkins, on four counts of wire fraud and one count of theft of public money for an alleged scheme in which she “greatly overstated” the number of children served by the Salama Child Care Center in regular reports to the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
State and federal investigators first raided the center, which was located at 1411 Nicollet Av. S., in 2015. State regulators revoked its license for numerous safety violations that same week.
In a written statement on Friday, Superintendent Drew Evans of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said Ali’s indictment “describes a selfish criminal act that kept money from being available for deserving families.”
According to the charges, Salama was licensed to provide care for 60 children at a time, but Ali submitted claims for payment through the state- and federally funded Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) that falsely inflated the number on any given day by 80 or more children, including days when Salama was closed.
CCAP is a program designed to help low-income families cover child-care costs. Ali’s indictment described her as working with “others known and unknown to the grand jury” to carry out the scheme. The four wire fraud charges total a loss of nearly $200,000.
The Salama Child Care Center was licensed in 2009 and had a history of safety violations. State regulators cited more than 20 violations, such as exposing children to hazards and operating without basic classroom materials, when they revoked the center’s license.
An affiliate, the Salama Child Care Center in St. Cloud, had its license revoked in 2013 after a 4-year-old wandered away from the facility to a nearby parking lot and was nearly hit by a car.