FOX 9 INVESTIGATORS: State yanks license of 3 child care centers - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

FOX 9 INVESTIGATORS: State yanks license of 3 child care centers

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

The state of Minnesota is revoking the licenses of three child care centers which have been the focus of a FOX 9 investigation.

FOX 9 Investigator Jeff Baillon uncovered evidence the centers were involved in a massive scheme to collect millions of tax dollars.

DEQO Child Care has centers in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Apple Valley -- but not for long. The state is yanking the company's license after an investigation by the Department of Human Services found a long list of violations.

Staff were found unqualified to work with children, their training records falsified, and some never underwent background checks.

In a notice to DEQO's owner Yasmin Ali, regulators said, "It's impossible to trust that documents or records prepared by the center are reliable or accurate, a lot of the information we received was false, misleading, or there was information withheld that was very relevant to our being able to determine whether or not some basic health and safety requirements were being met by these child care providers."

FOX 9 Investigators first revealed trouble with DEQO earlier this year.

Former office workers told FOX 9 that DEQO had a very lucrative business plan: Find low-income women who qualified for taxpayer funded child care assistance, offer them jobs to work at the centers and then bill the government for watching their kids.

"On a biweekly basis, it was between 50 and 75 thousand dollars at one center," a whistleblower told FOX 9. "And they had two, and now, they've got three."

Our whistleblower says most of the moms who were hired really didn't do anything. DEQO just wanted to enroll as many low income children as possible to maximize the amount of public money the centers could collect, she said.

"She's not keeping accurate records. The kids may or may not be in the building," she said.

Ali, DEQO's owner, has denied falsifying billing records, but there's an active criminal investigation already underway by Ramsey County.

In addition to all the funding for child care, DEQO was also getting public money to pay for kids' meals. Ali hired her brothers to do the catering. One of them, Adarus Ali, is now in federal prison because of his ties to a terrorism pipeline to send young men to fight in the Somali civil war.

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