Craig day care owner arrested for fraud

Charges allege woman forged billing documents

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Andrea Luker

Moffat County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested a Craig day care operator April 2 on suspicion of defrauding Moffat County Social Services for at least $3,264 in child day care subsidies.

Andrea Luker, 39, co-owner and operator of Bear Valley Child Learning Center, was arrested on suspicion of six counts of forgery, a Class 5 felony, and one count of theft between $1,000 and $20,000.

She was released on a personal recognizance bond the same day as her arrest.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in Moffat County Court by Joseph DeAngelo, an investigator for the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office, she falsely reported dates she cared for clients' children, which inflated the amount she was owed.

Deputy District Attorney Patrick Welsh said he plans to file formal charges against her next week.

Andrea is married to Alvin Luker, a corporal with the Craig Police Department who shares ownership of Bear Valley. Deputy District Attorney Jeremy Snow said there are no plans to file charges against Alvin.

DeAngelo's conclusions in the affidavit are based on comparing dates Andrea submitted for payment with days the mothers either said they were out of town or caring for their own children, or days when Andrea's business was closed.

For example, Social Services first started a formal inquiry into Andrea's billing practices when she and another provider billed the agency for care provided to the same girl on the same days in November, the affidavit states.

It goes on to read that the girl's mother told Social Services officials that Andrea had not watched her daughter those days because her business was closed, partly so that Andrea could participate in a local craft fair.

Through Social Services' initial inquiry, Self-Sufficiency Manager Laura Willems interviewed Andrea and Alvin.

The affidavit states Alvin told Social Services officials that Andrea was closed Nov. 6 and 7, but that Andrea hires alternative day care providers to watch people's children and pays them out of Social Services' reimbursements.

Alvin could not provide a record of who his wife hired for those days and did not remember who it could have been, according to the affidavit.

In later interviews with DeAngelo, Bear Valley clients disputed the Lukers' claims that Andrea hired other day care providers for them, according to the affidavit.

DeAngelo also states in the affidavit that a Bear Valley client said Andrea advised her that Alvin recommended she leave the District Attorney's Office if the investigator "was prying too far."

Alvin called DeAngelo on Feb. 19, the affidavit reads, and said he thought DeAngelo was "over-investigating" the case to eliminate perceptions that he was getting preferential treatment for being a police officer.

Alvin then said Social Services had a vendetta against him and his wife, and that was why the investigation began, according to the affidavit.

A Bear Valley client also wrote a letter in support of the Lukers, stating she thought Social Services had a vendetta against her, and the investigation into the Lukers could be related to her issues with the agency, the affidavit states.

DeAngelo wrote in the affidavit that he researched Bear Valley's practice from July to December 2008, but he thinks there likely are more instances of fraud. However, he supports the current charges because he does not think the total dollar amount would exceed $20,000 for the six-month period cited in the case.

DeAngelo has referred additional auditing to Social Services.

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or cesmith@craigdailypress.com.

Comments

twix 5 years, 6 months ago

freeman et al.

Do you check the hours on your spouse's paycheck and verify that they are correct. Are you positive they are not billing their employer for time when they are not working? That is what you are impling that Officer Luker should have done.

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tabithahawkins 5 years, 6 months ago

I live in Grand Junction so I don't know anyone in this case. However my husband's exwife was charged and convicted of the same thing as well as welfare fraud and medical. She defrauded moffat county over $6000. I never saw her picture in the paper? She got a slap on the wrist and was made to pay all money back. I think she also got a deffrered sentence and a year probation even though she already had a record.... All this in moffat county Craig co.. This kind of thing happens all the time but yet we hear about it now why? Why not every time it happen's? I'm not saying what she did was right if she even did do it rembereveryone in inocent until proven guilty.. Not in this case however she is being hung out to dry because she is a cop's wife.....

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greeneyedgurl 5 years, 6 months ago

I also do not know anybody in this case but what I don't understand is how these "clients" have social services pay for and/or help their day care expenses yet the majority of these people drive nicer cars than I do. How many "clients" are defrauding social services? I see people at the store using their food stamp card, then go get into a nice $40,000 vehicle. I've even seen a wife of a 20 mile employee (with one kid) use a food stamp card. I guess I went off the subject of this and I also agree that she is being hung out to dry. I know there are many people out there defrauding the system.

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kkcmsw 5 years, 6 months ago

greeneyedgurl- I don't think that this is necessarily the case of people defrauding the system but an example of how our society has changed and how materialistic we are. Many people are so caught up in having certain nice-new things that they will chose those unnecessary items over bills, food, medical care, ect. Children today are not deprived of materialistic things but are deprived of their social-emotional needs. Of course there are many people who abuse the system such as this woman in the article but until the system changes there is not much to do about it. The system is not flawless but at this time it is the best we have. Also, keep in mind that there are many people now seeking services because their income has changed due to job loss. So, I guess what I'm saying is it is best that we just take care of ourselves and our children and not get too caught up in what other's have.

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freeman 5 years, 6 months ago

the whole social services should be turned upside down and a good shaken down,,,seems like everyweek someone with the county is in trouble or associated with trouble,

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freeman 5 years, 6 months ago

everybody that is associated and/or part of the county will never be considered high standard,,,,,it is so terrible that the people who work for the county think they are a high standard with all the corrupt insides they have in them,,god help them

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yaho 5 years, 6 months ago

I just read that fraud was committed by a officers wife, I did not read that Social Services frauded this women why blame SS for this just because it is a goverment agncey. I am sure Alvin is just as guilty, and should also face charges. He know doubt enjoyed spending the money . As a business owner I make my self aware of finances and employees. Just because he is a officer of law he is still corrupt. Andreas declining clients, a cops salary , kid in college, new cars, motorcycles, mortgage on a home etc etc. Why not try to get a little extra cash. Alvin also mentions S.S. has a vendetta against he and Andrea. How funny I am thinking the same about Alvin as a police officer and alot of the arrestts that he has made , VENDETTA against certain people in this community

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tabithahawkins 5 years, 6 months ago

Yaho, all you read was that it was a officer's wife. Seem's you think you know a lot about this family. How do you know about their finances? and why is it your business, what they own? Sound a bit like stalking to me to know this much about their personal info? You sound more like a scorned person that has had some trouble with law enforcment. I.e. this officer. If she is quilty let her be hung out to dry.... There is nothing worse then welfare fraud, but everyone that does this from now on should get the same treatment. She is not a Police Officer her husband is. So this should not be about that... She has only be arrested not convicted!!! The justice system work's the same way for "Police Officer's Wife's" as it does for everyone else. I hope justice will be served in this case whether she is guilty or not..

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greeneyedgurl 5 years, 6 months ago

kkcm- I agree with you on how society has changed but still do believe it is people defrauding the system. I know there is an income cap when you apply for food stamps, if you also own a newer model vehicle then you don't qualify. It goes off the value of the vehicle. I have never had to rely on SS for help but that doesn't mean I haven't struggled more times than not. I have a kid in high school, his friend gets free lunch because his parents applied for the free hot lunch program. There are 10 people in his family which helps him get it, yet he wears brand new clothes, brand new "brand name" shoes to school every day. His parents have not one or two but 4 brand new vehicles in their driveway. So I think yes we are all materialistic but look at why we are. People get free sh*t when they don't really need it?? No wonder why this country is a mess!!

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lonelyone 5 years, 6 months ago

when I read the article, I thought to myself that maybe she hadn't do anything to terribly wrong and before you yell, let me tell you why. I know a few people who have done day care and once they accept you as a client, if that is what you call them, the two of you come to an agreement on how many days you want your child to be in that day care and you pay the provider for those days even if your child isn't there, just so you can maintain a spot or the provider is going to find someone else who wants their child in daycare. So if Mom decides to take her kid some place else for her own reasons, that's to bad she still has to pay the first day care person. However when the provider has to cancel out, like if she was doing the craft fair, I would think she shouldn't be getting paid unless she has someone come in and watch the kids for her. I have also heard that these mothers who get money for social services have to pay a portion of the bill themselves and some of them then turn around and stiff the provider because "I'll give you what social security pays but gee I went out last night and dont have any of my own money to pay you now, so I can't pay everything I own, but I want to bring the kid back again next week!" Not all providers are bad and not all parents who take their kids to day care and get help from social services are crooks, I'm just saying there might be something else going on......or she could have done as the paper said and did a bad thing.

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greeneyedgurl 5 years, 6 months ago

I agree lonely. I know of providers that offer so many "sick days" a year but yes some do charge even when the kid isnt there for a day. They need guaranteed income just like everyone else. My friend in Steamboat pays a flat fee monthly whether the kid is sick or mom has a day off.

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buck523 5 years, 6 months ago

She has a history of doing this with many other clients in the past. If the allegations are true, she defrauded the social services system. At no time, is that okay. It amazes me that there are people here that are saying this is okay....depending on the situation. It is not okay to break the law....for any reason. I would agree with Yaho......there needs to be a complete investigation into this and all involved in this fraud needs to be held accountable. I believe this is called "karma"!

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mustang 5 years, 6 months ago

Buck is right in that if a person breaks the law there should be consequences. My objection to this article is bringing her husband's employment into it. I don't think that if he worked out at one of the mines that the article would have read that he is a heavy machinery operator, because no one would care. If I interpret it right (please correct me if I am wrong) Buck's belief in this whole situation happening is due to "karma" because of the fact that Alvin Luker is a police officer and he deserves this. I have worked with many of the police officers here in town, and no I am not a city or county employee, and I have seen what they have to deal with. Officer Luker has always been respectful to the people that he is working with. I know that there will be some backlashing for stating that. All in all I think this whole situation is sad, especially for the children and parents who have depended on them for daycare.

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buck523 5 years, 6 months ago

Karma has nothing to do with her husband, but all to do with her and things she has done to past clients.

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lonelyone 5 years, 6 months ago

buck, I'm not saying it was ok for her to defraud the system, I was just trying to explain why she may have billed social services even when the child wasn't there. Her making the parent pay for X amount of days whether the child is there or not is normal for many day cares. I do not know if she had someone watching her kids for her while she was at the craft fair or not or whether she was counting that day as one of the childs normal days or not. I was just making a comment as to why she "might" have done some of what she is being charged with.

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buck523 5 years, 6 months ago

Lonelyone, I'm just guessing.....but, I would bet that social services has very specific guidelines for this and those guidelines were severely broken. Karma!

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freeman 5 years, 6 months ago

so you are saying the husband didnt know anything about it,,,???also the da i can believe is dirty,,all of them takea bribe to give one,,,but like in craig ,its who you know and who you blow to get what you want,, and as far as the husband our beautiful law enforcement,,not knowing anything was going on,,,you need to pull your head out of your ass,,,"///

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