Sunday, December 26, 2010

Woman Sentenced To 10 Years In Los Angeles Welfare Fraud Case With Alleged $1.3 Million Loss

In a state welfare fraud case that has been pending in Los Angeles County Superior Court for 3 years, Sakina Myles (aka Sakina Johnson), was sentenced to 10 years in state prison on December 20, 2010.  Ms. Myles was also ordered to make full restitution to the agencies in the amount of $1.3 million by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Pounders in Case No. BA317830.

Ms. Myles sentencing came after a no contest guilty plea to 12 counts of grand theft and 27 counts of perjury in two separate cases.  At the sentencing, Judge Pounders said he "was shocked by the monstrous greed" demonstrated by her.  The agencies who were alleged victims are: DPSS, Crystal Stairs, Drew Child Development Corporation, and the Center for Community and Family Services.

Ms. Myles was accused of leading a ring of 19 people who falsely supplied employment records and billed state and federal agencies for childcare services never rendered. The complex child care fraud scheme allegedly operated for almost 6 1/2 years, from June 2000 through October 2006. Ms. Myles allegedly claimed to operate the Johnson Family Daycare center at 438 E. 140th St. in Los Angeles, even though government authorities said records show she stopped providing childcare at that location in April 2002.   However, she allegedly continued receiving government funding even though she no longer provided childcare services. As part of the charges, she also allegedly provided phony employment records so 14 parents could qualify for childcare payments from the government’s welfare-to-work program.

Attorney Comments: The sentences continue to get longer in state court cases even where there is a plea agreement. It does not appear that Ms. Myles had a prior criminal record. However, the length of the sentence appears to indicate that there was no or little payment of restitution prior to the sentencing. In fraud cases, restitution is important to the prosecutors and the victims. Thus, successful mitigation of these cases focuses significantly on restitution.

Restitution is made by the judge and does not consider ability to pay. Where restitution is not possible due to financial reasons, it is important to show that all efforts have been made to pay something even if the amount is overwhelmingly large. Many clients find it difficult to pay the $250 a month even if the loss is in the million dollar range but they do not understand that it is important to pay what you can. I encourage clients to take second jobs devoted solely to restitution, selling assets, holding yard sales and showing the efforts to pay restitution. This is part of taking responsibility where there has been a plea agreement. The more creative I can be in showing that my client is working harder than anyone else -- the easier it is to obtain a fairer sentence.

Years ago, the state Department of Corrections had a restitution center halfway house program, but that program has been eliminated. To the extent we can create our own program where there will be a greater likelihood of restitution payment, we can present that as an alternative to state prison. It requires, however, a significant commitment by the client and depends on the assets available and whether there is a realistic ability to earn restitution instead of state prison. Every case is different and depends on the amount of the loss, the sentencing judge, the prosecutors on the case and the individual's past history.

Posted by Tracy Green, Esq.  Any questions regarding your own situation should be directed to Tracy Green, a very experienced welfare fraud attorney and white collar crime attorney. You can email her at or call her at 213-233-2261.  

The firm focuses its practice on the representation of licensed professionals, individuals and businesses in civil, business, administrative and criminal proceedings. They have a specialty in representing individuals and small businesses in fraud and overbilling allegations in California and throughout the country. Their website is:


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