When the authorities asserted that the pair worked together to steal almost $200,000 from county-based support programs, a Westminster woman and her daughter were accused of what was reported as the biggest case of housing fraud ever committed in Orange County.
The Orange County Housing Authority and the Orange County In Home Supportive Services program provide benefits for disabled members of the community who meet the criteria for their aid. A person who requires 285 or more hours of assistance in a 30-day period is considered a severe case, and they would be eligible for the maximum amount of benefits issued from In Home Support Services.
56-year-old Errica Madkins Mickens was reportedly awarded full assistance from the county programs when she allegedly presented herself as someone incapable of speaking or walking.
Due to the amount of care Mickens seemed to require she had a live-in caregiver, and the woman was also granted Section 8 vouchers to pay for the cost of her housing.
The Housing Authority reportedly noticed what they believed were inconsistencies in Mickens case and they alerted the authorities in an effort to sort out the situation.
An investigation was opened regarding the reported claim, and in their attempt to discern whether Mickens was committing fraud they began to watch her without her knowledge. With the District Attorney’s Public Assistance Division viewing, Mickens allegedly performed several tasks deemed impossible for an immobile person needing full-time care and assistance. It has been alleged that she was witnessed as she moved trash cans, tires, went shopping, drove a vehicle, and lifted suitcases.
A look into Mickens social media reportedly displayed that she and her caretaker had taken international vacations and uploaded photos from the trips. The woman reported as taking care of her was purported to be her daughter, 29-year-old Brittany Monet Mickens.
The pair also appeared to reside in Brittany’s house, but allegedly did not allow the social service programs to know that they were blood-related. It was asserted that this information was intentionally not disclosed due to the rule that one does not receive housing assistance vouchers if they live with family who own a home.
When inspecting their finances it was reported that approximately $600,000 was sitting in their bank accounts, and the mother and daughter allegedly recently bought a 2019 Land Rover.
It was calculated that the programs issued Errica between $190,000 and $200,000.
The mother and daughter were taken into custody for the allegations on Thursday and they are each facing charges for suspicion of grand theft public housing fraud, grand theft of housing funds, medical insurance fraud and grand theft, which are all felonies. Four sentence enhancements of aggravated white-collar crime were also issued to each of the women.
The prosecuting attorneys plan to move forward with the case and try to show that the Mickens’ obtained birth certificates and identification that did not belong to them giving them the ability to exploit the programs.
Both women are being held in lieu of $190,000 bonds, and if they are found guilty of the accusations they could face 8-year prison sentences.
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.