Former DCFS manager accused of stealing at least $1.6M in day care funds, spending it at a casino
CHICAGO - A former manager with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is accused of stealing at least $1.6 million in funds meant for day care services and spending the money at a casino.
Shauntelle Pridgeon was charged with fraud in a federal complaint that was handed down earlier this month but unsealed this week after Pridgeon was taken into custody.
Pridgeon had worked as a social service community planner for DCFS from 2015 until the fraud was uncovered last summer, according to the complaint. She was responsible for approving daycare providers for children placed under the care of DCFS.
From at least 2016, at least 15 child care providers paid at least $1.6 million into a private bank account controlled by Pridgeon and her spouse, the feds allege. "Most of these personal payments to Pridgeon were made by the providers at the same time that those providers were being paid for child care services by DCFS," the complaint states.
SUBSCRIBE TO FOX 32 CHICAGO ON YOUTUBE
Records show that Pridgeon often used money in that account for "gambling-related expenses" at a local casino, primarily on slot machines, the complaint states. Records indicate that Pridgeon spent $3.7 million at the casino from January 2015 through November 2022 and won $1.7 million, for a loss of $2.2 million, according to the complaint.
The scheme was discovered last August when a supervisor learned that Pridgeon had approved a child care provider, which was then paid about $280,000 over several years even though no child care services were provided, the complaint states.
The supervisor arranged for a meeting with Pridgeon and asked her to bring records about the provider and explain why it was paid for no work, the complaint states. But Pridgeon showed up at the meeting with no files, explaining she could not find them.
The supervisor asked someone else to go to the agency’s file room in the building and get the files. Pridgeon then excused herself to go to the restroom, but instead went to the file room and took the records from the other employee.
Records from the files were later found in a trash bin, according to the complaint.