Former DCFS manager stole $1.6M in day care funds, spent it at casino, feds allege

Shauntelle Pridgeon was responsible for approving day care providers for kids placed under the Illinois agency’s care.

SHARE Former DCFS manager stole $1.6M in day care funds, spent it at casino, feds allege
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A former Illinois Department of Children and Family Services manager is accused of stealing $1.6 million meant for day care services and spending the money at a casino.

Shauntelle Pridgeon was charged with fraud in a federal complaint this month that was unsealed this week after she was taken into custody.

Pridgeon had worked as a social service community planner for DCFS from 2015 until the fraud was uncovered last summer, according to the complaint. She was responsible for approving day care providers for children placed under the care of DCFS.

From at least 2016, at least 15 child care providers paid at least $1.6 million into a private bank account controlled by Pridgeon and her spouse, authorities say.

”Most of these personal payments to Pridgeon were made by the providers at the same time that those providers were being paid for child care services by DCFS,” the complaint says.

Pridgeon used money in that account for “gambling-related expenses” at a casino, primarily on slot machines, according to the complaint, which says she spent $3.7 million at the casino from January 2015 through November 2022 and won $1.7 million, for an overall loss of $2.2 million.

The scheme was uncovered last August when a supervisor discovered that Pridgeon had approved a child care provider that was then paid about $280,000 over several years even though no child care services were provided, according to the complaint.

It says the supervisor arranged to meet with Pridgeon and asked her to bring records about the provider and explain why it was paid for no work and that Pridgeon showed up with no files, saying she couldn’t find them.

Authorities say the supervisor asked someone else to go to the agency’s file room to get the files, whereupon Pridgeon excused herself to go to the restroom but instead went to the file room and took the records from the other employee, which were later found in a trash bin.

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