Franklin County Superior Court: 2 plead innocent in child care scam

A Pasco mother and daughter are accused of scamming the state out of thousands of dollars by filing false documents for child care subsidies.

Judith Gonzalez Barajas, 46, and Judith Esmeralda Barajas, 24, pleaded innocent last week in Franklin County Superior Court.

The mother is charged with first-degree theft by welfare fraud, second-degree perjury and false verification for public assistance, all felonies.

Some court documents have her name as Judith Barajas Gonzalez.

Her daughter faces two charges of false verification of public assistance and one count of second-degree perjury.

Both women are scheduled for March 12 trials, and have been released on their personal recognizance in the meantime. The women live at the same Campolina Lane address.

The charges were filed in November after criminal investigator John Paquette reviewed the Barajas' files and looked into their claims. Paquette works in the state Department of Social and Health Services' Office of Fraud and Accountability.

Court documents show that Judith E. Barajas received $5,451 in Working Connections Child Care payments during a 16-month period that she was not entitled to because of her actual circumstances.

Her mother allegedly got $13,0003 from January 2010 through February 2011 that she shouldn't have been paid.

According to the DSHS website, the "Working Connections Child Care program pays for child care subsidies to eligible households with parents who are working or are participating in a DSHS approved work activity and whose children meet citizenship requirements."

The subsidy can be applied to licensed or certified child care centers and homes, as well as relatives who provide care in their own homes, the site explains.

Paquette wrote in court documents that Judith E. Barajas failed to report that she was living with the father of her children from April 2008 to June 2011, and for 14 months during that period he brought in money while working for various employers.

The daughter also didn't report that her boyfriend was not working between July and December 2009 and would have been able to care for their two kids, documents said.

When Judith E. Barajas signed different forms for the state, she said the father of her children did not live in the home and gave false or misleading information about his employment and income, or his unemployment, Paquette said.

Judith Gonzalez Barajas collected a subsidy between September 2009 and December 2010 even though she was not providing child care services for her grandchildren during that time, court documents said. Another daughter reportedly was watching the kids then.

The mother also failed to keep child care attendance sign-in and sign-out sheets for her two grandkids and another child, documents said. Those timesheets are required for DSHS clients under the Washington Administrative Code.

-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer