A North Philadelphia woman who pleaded guilty in the drowning death of a 7-year-old boy who attended her improperly licensed day care center will be on 10 years' probation after her release from federal prison, where she is serving a five-year term for fraud.
That was the most that Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart could sentence Tianna Edwards to Thursday in the June 2012 drowning of Isear Jeffcoat. She has already served 22 months since her arrest.
"Horrible negligence" is what Minehart called Edwards' conduct in the death of Isear, whose body was found after nine hours searching in six feet of murky water in a pool at Edwards' mother's house.
Edwards told Isear's family she was sorry for what happened and that she "grew to adore" Isear like one of her own children.
"God called your son home," she told Isear's mother, Tamisha Madalion, adding, "Life is 10 percent what happened to you and 90 percent how you react to it."
Madalion, 32, made a victim-impact statement mourning the loss of her first son and the fact that her 10-month-old "will never get to know his older brother."
Assistant District Attorney Peter Berson described Edwards as a "greedy thief, pure and simple."
Assistant District Attorney Brendan O'Malley said Edwards was "motivated by money and not motivated to provide a safe place for these children."
Edwards operated Tianna's Terrific Tots Daycare on Rising Sun Avenue. Defense attorney Michael Giampietro called the case tragic but urged Minehart not to sentence Edwards to more prison time.
Prosecutors estimate that Edwards made $182,000 over two years while improperly collecting $13,500 in welfare benefits.
She is serving a sentence of five years and three months on federal charges of fraudulently obtaining a day-care license, using her sister-in-law's identity, and improperly receiving $1.4 million in state subsidies from 2008 to 2011.
She could not have obtained a day-care license in her name due to criminal convictions for gun offenses, shoplifting, and insurance fraud.