CFO Jeff Atwater Announces Arrest of Port Saint Lucie Woman Accused of $46,000 in Childcare Provider Fraud
Contact: Anna Alexopoulos
TALLAHASSEE – Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today announced the arrest of Jennifer Godown, 37, of Port Saint Lucie, for public assistance fraud, theft and forgery, all third degree felonies. Godown, owner of Inspirational Minds Academy, formerly known as Little Hands Academy, is accused of fraudulently receiving more than $46,000 from September 23, 2009 through June 22, 2011 in funding for a Voluntary Prekindergarten program (VPK) from the State of Florida.
After receiving a tip from the Early Learning Coalition of Saint Lucie County, the Department of Financial Services’ Division of Public Assistance Fraud conducted an investigation into Godown’s facility. The investigation revealed that for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years, Godown allegedly submitted a forged Child Development Accreditation (CDA) certificate to the Early Learning Coalition to receive state funds to run a VPK program.
The investigation revealed that Godown used an out dated CDA certificate, replacing the old information with that of a new, noncertified teacher. This certificate is required in order for an organization to receive VPK Education Program dollars.
Godown is charged with making a false statement to receive public assistance funds, theft and submitting forged certificates. She faces up to 25 years in prison and up to $20,000 in fines.
Anyone with information about these or any other incidents of suspected public assistance fraud is asked to call 866-762-2237. Citizens who provide tips can remain anonymous.
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending.