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Six arrested in welfare fraud scheme

Shirley Hawkins | 1/7/2009, 5 p.m.

Six people who allegedly defrauded the child care welfare programs of more than $1 million were arrested on Dec. 12 by district county investigators. Suspects were arrested on multiple counts of grand theft, perjury, conspiracy and welfare fraud, according to Deputy District Attorney James Cosper, head deputy of the Welfare Fraud Division. Between Nov. 30, 2001 and June 30, 2006, Beatrice Shawn Harvey, 28, applied for and received more than $136,000 from the county by allegedly failing to report that she was married and that her husband was employed by the County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Beatrice was arrested on Nov. 26 at the Lancaster Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) office where she worked. District Attorney investigators said that between Oct. 1, 2000 and May 31, 2006, the suspects allegedly collected more than $665,000 for child care services that were not provided to children belonging to Harvey and others. Harvey is being held on $181,000 bail. Also arrested were Tammi Howard, 41, Sannice Lavette Arthur, 41, of Los Angeles, and Erica Manesha Dunn, 27, of North Hills. A fourth defendant is in state prison on an unrelated matter. A fifth defendant, Jasette McKinney, 41, the alleged ringleader of the scheme and the sister of Harvey, is still wanted. Harvey was also involved in a similar fraud scheme with Cedric Dale, 41, and Darlene Jenkins, 46, near Ft. Worth. Dale has been charged with orchestrating the theft of more than $340,000 of child care funds with co-conspirators Jenkins and Greta Marie Brown, 36, who was arrested in Long Beach. Authorities said that the three allegedly worked with defendants connected with Harvey. "McKinney was operating three child care services in separate locations paid for by the county," said Jane Robison, press secretary for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. "It was later discovered that McKinney was allegedly not providing child care services at the facilities." Robison said that authorities are searching for McKinney and that she is still at large. "She's aware that we are looking for her," said Robison.