April 19, 2017
from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 12 CR 00800 -
Sharon Johnson Coleman, Judge.
BAUER, POSNER, and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges.
convicted Herman Jackson of two counts of mail fraud in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341 and nine counts of wire
fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343, as well as two
counts of making a false statement in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1001 for his role in the scheme. Jackson's former
wife and codefendant, Janette Faria, was convicted of one
count of mail fraud, six counts of wire fraud, and one count
of making a false statement. Defendants-appellants timely
appealed, raising several challenges, including to the
sufficiency of the evidence. We affirm.
case stems from a scheme to defraud the State of Illinois by
falsely obtaining child care subsidies intended for
low-income families. Between 2003 and 2011, Jackson operated
three daycares in succession, all located in Cicero,
Illinois: St. Peters Christian Academy; Jubilee Daycare
Center; and ABC Cicero. Jackson housed the daycares in a
building next to the Ark of Safety Apostolic Faith Temple
where he served as pastor. Subsidies from the State of
Illinois' Child Care Assistance Program largely funded
the daycares. Before turning to the facts of this case, it is
necessary to provide a brief overview of CCAP
designed to provide low-income, working families with
affordable child care in order to allow parents to work, go
to school, or pursue job training. CCAP requires eligible
families to pay a portion of the cost of child care on a
sliding scale according to family size, income, and number of
children enrolled in daycare. A family's share of the
cost is referred to as a co-payment, with the State paying
the remaining costs through CCAP. The subsidies are paid
directly to the childcare provider.
Action for Children (AFC), a childcare resource and referral
agency, administered CCAP in Cook County, Illinois. AFC sent
childcare providers the applications for CCAP, and then
processed the forms after they were completed. As part of the
application, parents were required to report certain
information, including the place of employment or the name of
educational institution that they attended, the employment or
school schedule, income, the number of children enrolled in
daycare, the name of childcare provider, and the number of
hours that the children were in daycare. Parents also had to
provide documentation verifying their income, such as pay
stubs or letters of employment.
for the program generally lasted six months. Toward the end
of the six-month term, AFC sent the childcare provider a
redetermination form, which was an abbreviated application
requiring parents to resubmit most of the information
contained in the initial application. Failure to submit a
redetermination form resulted in a loss of the subsidy.
Childcare providers submitted monthly reports to AFC,
referred to as childcare certificate reports, which
documented the days and hours that children covered under
CCAP attended childcare. In turn, AFC issued payment by check
or direct deposit to childcare providers.
crux of the government's case is that Jackson, along with
Faria, submitted or directed the submission of dozens of CCAP
applications, employment verification letters,
redetermination forms, and monthly childcare certificate
reports that contained materially false information.
Specifically, the government contends that Jackson, along
with Faria in connection with ABC Cicero, defrauded the State
by: (1) billing for part-time children as though they
attended full time; (2) billing for children who never
attended the daycares; (3) billing for children who likely
failed to qualify for subsidies because either their parents
made too much money or were unemployed; and (4) billing for
months of childcare services that were not provided because
the daycares were not operational. In total, the State paid
over $2.28 million in subsidies to Jackson's daycares.
October 11, 2012, a federal grand jury returned an indictment
that charged Jackson with two counts of mail fraud, ten
counts of wire fraud, and two counts of making a false
statement. Faria was charged with one count of mail fraud,
seven counts of wire fraud, and one count of making a false
statement. The district court dismissed one count of wire
fraud as to both defendants-appellants prior to trial.
Jackson and Faria proceeded to trial on September 9, 2015.
Two days later, Jackson fired his attorney and proceeded
pro se, with the attorney serving on standby for the
remainder of the trial. The following evidence was adduced at
St. Peters Christian Academy
2002, Jackson opened St. Peters Christian Academy, which he
owned and operated until it closed in early 2004.
Jackson's ex-wife, LaKeisa Jackson, served as teacher,
cook, and director of the daycare. Ms. Jackson testified that
she and Jackson falsified information in paperwork submitted
to AFC, including parental employment information, income
verification letters, and the number of hours of childcare
being provided. Jackson also falsified or directed Ms.
Jackson to falsify information in applications and
redetermination forms submitted for their own children. Ms.
Jackson also testified that Jackson used the alias
"Henry Walker" and directed her to use the alias
"Maria Young" on AFC paperwork. The aliases were
used to submit numerous false employment verification letters
Jackson stated that Jackson generally completed the childcare
certificate reports, but occasionally directed her to do so.
The State paid the maximum monthly reimbursement to the
provider as long as the children attending the daycare
received care for 80% of the days for which they were
eligible. Jackson instructed Ms. Jackson to falsify the
reports to ensure that the daycare received the maximum
reimbursement for enrolled children. Ms. Jackson testified
that Jackson became angered when she completed the reports
with accurate attendance information because St. Peters lost
money. The next time she completed the reports, Jackson stood
over her to ensure the attendance rate was inflated
sufficiently to receive the maximum subsidy.
Gonzalez and Roxana Rios, both parents with children
attending St. Peters, testified about Jackson's
fraudulent conduct. Gonzalez stated that Jackson submitted an
application on his behalf that significantly underreported
his income. The application also stated that Gonzalez was a
janitor at St. Peters; he actually worked at PepsiCo. Jackson
signed the application using his alias, "Henry
Walker." In addition, Jackson submitted childcare
certificate reports for Gonzalez's child for more than a
year after his child left the daycare in order to continue
collecting subsidies. During that time, two recertification
forms containing falsified information about Gonzalez's
occupation and income were submitted to AFC with
Gonzalez's forged signature.
Rios testified that the application submitted to AFC
falsified her occupation and stated incorrectly that she
worked full-time instead of part-time. Rios worked as a
part-time teacher's assistant at St. Peter's, but her
application stated that she was a janitor. Her application
was signed using Jackson's alias. Jackson submitted
monthly childcare certificate reports to AFC representing
that Rios' daughter attended St. Peters from December
2002 through January 2004; Rios' daughter did not attend
St. Peters during this period. A forged recertification form
with falsified information was submitted to AFC on her
McNealey, a former AFC supervisor, testified that Jackson
provided him with cash payments in exchange for expediting
processing of St. Peters' applications and
recertification forms. McNealey also stated that after
noticing that most of the applicants worked at St. Peters, he
called the employer phone number listed on the applications
in order to verify employment. He asked to speak with Henry
Walker, who was listed as the contact on the employment
verification letters. McNealey testified that after asking to
speak with Henry Walker, Jackson answered the phone and
verified the parents' employment. McNealey was fired in
January 2004, in part because of "issues with Mr.
Jackson's daycare center."
after McNealey's departure from AFC, subsidy payments
stopped being disbursed to St. Peters, and the daycare
closed. In total, more than $895, 000 in AFC subsidy payments
were disbursed to St. Peters. Ms. Jackson testified that
Jackson spent the subsidy payments on houses and luxury cars,
as well as his church. The government presented financial
records corroborating these purchases.
Jubilee Daycare Center
launched a new daycare in late 2005, operating out of the
same space as St. Peters. Jackson recruited Denise Pugh to
serve nominally as the owner of Jubilee; her name was used on
the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services'
application to open the daycare and on the incorporation
documents filed with the State. Pugh was unemployed, lacked
any daycare experience, and lived in a classroom on the
second floor of the daycare. Pugh testified that if she
permitted Jackson to open up the daycare in her name, she
would have a "job for life." Ms. Jackson testified
that the daycare was opening in Pugh's name so that
"the licensing information and everything would be able
to go through."
opening Jubilee in Pugh's name, Jackson remained
responsible for the daycare. He made the hiring decisions,
submitted monthly childcare certificate reports, and
controlled the daycare's bank account. Pugh performed
such tasks as opening the daycare, greeting parents and
children, and assisting with the completion of applications.
Initially, Pugh received no compensation for her employment;