L.A. County Contractor Charged
in Public Corruption Case
LOS ANGELES – The head of Peace and Joy Care Center – a Carson-based non-profit organization that provides services for domestic violence victims under a contract with Los Angeles County – was arrested today for allegedly ordering employees to assist in the creation of fraudulent bills totaling more than $700,000.
Wilma Wilson, 61 (dob 11/11/51), was arrested without incident at her Carson home by investigators of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation. Two longtime employees, Lisa Corona, 43 (dob 10/10/68), of Cerritos and Melanie McAllister, 49 (dob 6/28/62), of San Pedro also were arrested.
Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley said the Internal Welfare Fraud Unit of the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Division aggressively targets this type of crime for the purpose of recovering and restoring taxpayer money to financially strapped county coffers and punishing those who create such schemes.
“This criminal filing is another example of how an apparently worthwhile project becomes a vehicle for defrauding public benefit programs,” Cooley said.
An arraignment date for Wilson and her co-defendants has not been set. The women are charged in case No. BA393579.
Nipa Cook, Deputy-In-Charge of the Internal Welfare Fraud Unit, said Wilson faces two counts of grand theft and one count of conspiracy to commit a crime. The complaint includes excessive-taking allegations of more than $700,000. Corona and McAllister are charged with one count of each of grand theft and conspiracy to commit a crime.
Wilson, executive director of Peace and Joy Care Center, is accused of directing Corona and McAllister and several other employees to gather names and personal identifying information of public benefit recipients at Department of Public Social Services offices.
Wilson purportedly used that information to bill the county for various services, including counseling sessions. Wilson also extensively over-billed the county for “clients” who received limited services from Peace and Joy Care Center, according to the prosecutor.
Under Wilson’s orders, Corona and McAllister and other employees allegedly created fraudulent files with forged signatures and bogus case notes for the purposes of backing up the bills to the county and deceiving county auditors, the prosecutor said.
A joint investigation by the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the Auditor-Controller of Los Angeles County with assistance from the Department of Public Social Services revealed that Wilson’s alleged practices of fraudulent billing and over-billing were in effect from 2003 to 2008.
Bail for Wilson is recommended at $700,000. Corona’s bail is recommended at $180,000 and McAllister’s recommended bail is $500,000.
If convicted as charged, Wilson faces a maximum sentence of eight years, eight months in state prison. Corona and McAllister may be sentenced up to five years in prison, if convicted of all counts.