Kim Lewis remembers feeling lucky when Patricia Villamarin agreed to become the nanny for her 3-month-old twins six years ago.

The Los Angeles attorney was impressed by Villamarin's experience watching over twins and was pleased when the nanny recounted their many "enriching" trips to the aquarium, farmers markets, parks and libraries.

Then, she found out that she was a victim of what authorities now describe as an elaborate fraud.

The L.A. city attorney's office last week accused Villamarin of running a five-year scheme in which Villamarin allegedly told parents she wanted to "expose" children to various cultural activities as an excuse for getting them out of the house. Once she received permission to take the children out, she allegedly dropped them off at a Hollywood apartment and went to work at a Chinatown farmers market selling fruit.

The charges name five families, each with two children placed in her care. But authorities said they believe as many as 30 children could be involved.

Villamarin paid a woman running the unlicensed day-care between $5 and $10 for each child, said prosecutor Will Rivera. Villamarin ended up making "tens of thousands of dollars," Rivera said, because the parents paid her between $12 and $16 an hour for each child she cared for.

Villamarin said she was shocked at the charges, which she said are overblown. She said she was simply getting help from a friend to look after all the kids.

"I didn't do any second business; I don't do that," she said. "... And I don't care for no more kids. I don't want no more problems."

The charges leave Lewis feeling betrayed.

"I trusted her with my children," she said. "I was shocked to find out that I could have been so wrong about somebody."


She's about 80. He's 100. Breathless scientists watched as the world's most endangered turtles were introduced, nudged each other curiously and slowly got down to business.

But the attempt to breed the species' last known female with the last known male in China failed because the eggs -- dozens of them -- didn't hatch, officials said Saturday.

The female turtle's age wasn't considered a factor. Instead, experts blamed years of a low-calcium diet.

Just four known Yangtze giant soft-shell turtles are left, and three are male. The only female was found in a Chinese zoo last year. She was quickly protected with a surveillance camera, a guard and bulletproof glass, and given the nickname China Girl.

Now the supporters must wait until spring, when the female should be ready for the next attempt.