The feds busted eleven people yesterday in a scam to bilk the government of $18 million in subsidies from a program for the poor that pays for child-care costs while parents look for work. The scheme was run by a group of Russian immigrants that calls itself “the Congregation,” masterminded by 63-year-old Liudmila Umarov, who runs 35 day-care centers in Brooklyn and Staten Island. The Health Department investigated Umarov in 2003 when a 21-month-old boy died at one of her facilities. Seven city officials, who took bribes of cash and jewelry to issue permits for substandard centers and rushed payments from the $405 million voucher program, were part of the eleven charged. Six of the centers have been shut down for violations, including an open container of alcohol left in a refrigerator next to the children’s lunches.
Day-Care bribe ring KO’d: feds [NYP]
Day Care Operators Are Accused of Bilking City Program for Working Poor [NYT]