OAKLAND -- A married Alameda couple have recently accepted a plea deal admitting they defrauded the county and state out of more than $180,000 in child care payments and food stamps in what could be one of the largest child care fraud cases in recent county history.
Khadijah Ali and her husband Malik Ali, also known as Karl Grant, spent the last nine years lying to government officials about their true names, marriage and housing situation in order to qualify for government subsidized child care payments and food stamps for their three children.
The fraud began in October 2001 when Khadijah Ali applied for and won approval to receive child care payments from 4C's of Alameda County, a not-for-profit organization that distributes state funds to needy families. According to court documents, Ali claimed she lived in Oakland and failed to mention that she was married to Malik Ali or that Malik Ali was employed by the Alameda County Sheriff's Department as a recreation assistant at Santa Rita Jail.
As a result, court records show, Ali qualified for assistance which, over the course of nine years, totaled to more than $185,000.
Compared with "other child care fraud cases, this is one of the largest I have seen," said Chris Lamiero, a deputy district attorney who prosecuted the case.
Although the government payments were sent directly to the child care provider, the Alameda County District Attorney's Office charged the couple with three
The couple was charged in July and about a month later Khadijah Ali agreed to a plea deal in which she promised to pay $125,000 to the state Department of Education, which distributes block grants to counties for the child care program.
If the payment is made by the time Khadijah Ali is set to be sentenced in November, charges against her husband Malik Ali will be dismissed, court records show.
Should Khadijah Ali not be able to pay back the state, she will be sent to prison for two years. Malik Ali would also then face prison time.
The fraud was discovered by an employee of 4C's of Alameda County who noticed discrepancies in Khadijah Ali's yearly applications. The information was turned over to the district attorney's office which investigated and discovered the fraud.
How the couple was able to defraud the government and what, if any, changes have been made to prevent future frauds remains unclear. Representatives from the 4C's did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Marlon Monroe, the attorney representing Khadijah Ali, declined to comment saying he did not want to make a statement because the case is still pending and must be approved by a judge.
"It is not a done deal, so it doesn't make sense for me or my client to make a statement on the case," Monroe said.
An attorney representing Malik Ali did not return calls seeking comment.