An official with a now-defunct nonprofit agency linked to the 2006 starvation death of 14-year-old Danieal Kelly pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday to two counts of fraud and conspiracy to obstruct.
Manuelita Buenaflor, 65, admitted that she had created false records, backdated other records and failed to alert city officials that her agency, MultiEthnic Behavioral Health Inc., was not making the required number of visits to homes of needy children it was supposed to be supervising, a government plea memorandum said.
Defense attorney Gina Capuano said Buenaflor was "remorseful" and accepted "full responsibility" for her actions, adding that her client had no prior criminal history.
Buenaflor was quality-assurance director for the agency, which the city paid $3.7 million from 2000 to October 2006 to provide at-home social services to needy children of about 500 families, including Danieal's.
The feds indicted eight former executives and case workers of the nonprofit on fraud and conspiracy-to-obstruct charges. A ninth staffer was indicted on charges she lied to the grand jury in April.
Prosecutors said in the indictment that the nonprofit was not making the required number of at-home visits but billed the city anyway. To keep the scheme going, the feds said MultiEthnic's managers and case workers created phony records for visits that were never made and backdated records for visits that were not made in a timely fashion.
Buenaflor, of Philadelphia, is the second defendant in the case to plead guilty this week.
On Tuesday, Christiana Nimpson, 53, also of Philadelphia, pleaded guilty to two fraud counts and conspiracy to obstruct.
Both women have agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and testify at any trial - now scheduled for November - involving other defendants.
A third defendant in the case is expected to plead guilty next week.
Nimpson was a case worker assigned to make visits to families with needy children but frequently did not make the visits, the government's plea memorandum said.
She was also supposed to check on certain at-risk children who had gone without the required visits.
The government's court filing said Nimpson made the visits but then, at the direction of her superiors, created false records to make it appear as though the earlier visits had been made.
U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell set a Sept. 18 sentencing for Nimpson and a Sept. 25 sentencing for Buenaflor.
Buenaflor and Nimpson remain free on $25,000 and $20,000 unsecured bail, respectively. *