Day care operator guilty of white-collar crime; must repay $75K

Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 4:55 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 4:55 p.m.

A day care operator in Gainesville and Starke was convicted of white-collar crime this week and ordered to repay $79,000 to the state.

Prosecutors were prepared to call 156 witnesses to testify against Barbara Rochelle Cummings, 45, but she struck a deal with the state just before her trial was scheduled to start on Tuesday.

Cummings pleaded no contest to aggravated white-collar crime. The charges were related to two day care centers she ran — Kids Zone in Gainesville and Kids ‘N All Learning in Starke.

Assistant State Attorney Michael Becker said Cummings fraudulently applied for free and reduced meals for her centers. He also said that Cummings accepted $400,000 in state money for meals at the centers between Jan. 1, 2004, and June 30, 2006.

Senior Circuit Court Judge Elzie Sanders adjudicated Cummings guilty and ordered her to repay the state $79,000 in restitution. Under Florida law, the adjudication means that Cummings may not hold any professional licenses in the state and is banned from entering into any contracts with the state.

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