By John Speer
TOLEDO — The former director of a Toledo child care center is charged with money laundering and ongoing criminal conduct in connections with more than $278,000 in improper spending.
Kristine Michelle Daniel, 46, now of Kellogg, was charged on Wednesday following a special investigation by the state auditor’s office into improper and unsupported expenditures from Kids Corner Day Care Center – Tama County Day Care in Toledo.
Daniel was the director of the day care center from February 2010 until mid-2016 when she was terminated following disclosure of missing funds from the center’s operation.
A report detailing Daniel’s misspending were reported Thursday morning by the state auditor. The report was made as the result of a special investigation of the Toledo center covering a period from Dec. 8, 2009 to May 31, 2016.
A total of $278,362.58 of improper and unsupported disbursements, undeposited collections, and forgone grant revenue were identified. The special investigation was requested by the Kids’ Corner Board, in conjunction with the Tama County Sheriff’s Office, as a result of concerns regarding certain credit card purchases by the former executive director.
A search warrant served at Daniel’s Grinnell residence executed on June 7, 2016, found numerous items purchased by Daniels using Day Care Center credit cards personally used and possessed by her. There was also evidence she was using Day Care resources to buy items and resell them online for her own financial benefit.
A news release issued by state auditor Mary Mosiman says in part, “the special investigation identified $278,362.58 of improper and unsupported disbursements, undeposited collections, and forgone grant revenue. The $120,724.29 of improper and unsupported disbursements identified includes $55,523.00 of purchases on Kids’ Corner’s credit cards, primarily from Amazon, Walmart, and Sam’s Club; $56,369.24 in unauthorized payroll and reimbursements issued to or for Ms. Daniel; $5,140.53 of penalties and interest incurred for non-payment of payroll taxes to the federal and state governments; and $3,649.52 of purchases from various vendors.
The $63,638.29 of undeposited collections identified consist of cash payments from parents for childcare services which were recorded in Kids’ Corner’s accounting system but not deposited to Kids’ Corner’s bank accounts, and the $94,000 of forgone grant revenue consists of funds Kids’ Corner could have received through the Iowa Department of Education to supplement its grocery purchases for meals served. According to representatives of the Iowa Department of Education, notices sent to Daniel stating Kids’ Corner’s participation in the program would be terminated if the application was not renewed did not receive a response. As a result, Kids’ Corner was removed from the program and received no additional payments after Oct. 17, 2014.
Mosiman also reported it was not possible to determine if additional amounts were improperly disbursed or if additional parent payments were not properly deposited because adequate documentation was not available.
Daniel made an initial court appearance on Wednesday while in custody. She was released to the supervision of the department of corrections. A preliminary hearing is set for June 8.