A woman who held the position of director of a child care and preschool facility funded by the state has been accused of embezzling over $75,000 by reporting that more than the actual number of children were enrolled and keeping the extra money.
Jan Coleman was employed as the program director for the Hazlehurst United Methodist Church Child Care and Preschool in Mississippi for several years.
Beginning in late 2014 and extending through July 2018, Coleman allegedly falsified the number of children that were attending the program, which is funded by the state Department of Human Services and used for low-income families in need of childcare.
Money from the fund for the program was dispersed by the state for the number of attendants allegedly reported by Coleman, and she was accused of taking the extra cash.
In July, when it was noticed that the funds were missing, Coleman was fired from her position. She then reportedly turned herself in for the allegations.
On Friday, the authorities took Coleman into custody, and during her arrest, she was served with a demand letter ordering the woman to pay for the $10,000 cost of the investigation into the claims. The auditor was reported as expressing the belief that Coleman “defrauded the taxpayers for far too long and took advantage of money intended for the benefit of children,” though she has only been charged and not convicted for the allegations.
A grand jury charged Coleman with one count of fraud in connection with a state or federally funded program, and one count of embezzlement, for the accusations and she was released from custody after she paid $5,000 bail.
According to a press release from the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor, if Coleman is convicted as charged she may face a penalty of up to 13 years in prison and a fine of $35,000.
If you or someone you love is suspected of a theft crime, contact Orange County criminal defense lawyer Staycie R. Sena at (949) 477-8088 for a consultation now.