Madison -- The state Department of Justice now has a hand in the multi-million dollar case of alleged fraud by a Dane County foster child agency – a sign of a possible criminal investigation.
Speaking to a Senate committee Thursday, state Children and Families Secretary Eloise Anderson would say only that her agency is in touch with justice officials. A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice didn't immediate return a phone message seeking comment.
"They’re working with us and communicating with us,” Anderson said.
At the committee, Anderson took her first public questions on an audit by her agency that found that Community Care Resources of Middleton racked up $6.1 million in inappropriate charges and profits - mostly for the personal use of owners Daniel and Mary Simon - from 2009 to 2011.
In the hearing, Anderson and agency staff told members of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services that the agency intended to audit more of Community Care’s financials, including the years prior to 2009 and its 2012 finances, which become available in July.
The completed state audit found that the Simons used the money to finance homes and renovations, luxury cars, boats and trips around the country.
The Simons are appealing the state's subsequent revocation of their license and findings by the state that their total salaries of more than $1 million over three years were inflated. In a letter given to the committee and handed out to reporters by a representative, the Simon’s attorney, David Schwartz, said that his clients were innocent.
“(Community Care) would like nothing more than the opportunity to attend the hearing and clear its name,” Schwartz wrote in the letter. “Unfortunately, due to the ongoing revocation proceeding and litigation, based upon our advice, CCR cannot attend.”
Schwartz did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
Besides criminal cases, the Department of Justice does do some other legal tasks for state agencies in similar situations, including helping them collect on money that is owed to the state.