Miami-Dade day care owner accused of stealing from scholarship program

Police: More than $100,000 fraudulently taken from Step Up program

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. - A Miami-Dade County day care owner was arrested Thursday on accusations that she has defrauded a Florida scholarship program out of more than $100,000, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced.

Lissette Orta, 47, of Miramar, is charged with one count of grand theft and one count of organized scheme to defraud. 

According to the FDLE, she is the fifth person to be arrested in recent years for stealing from the Step Up program, which administers the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program for low-income, full-time students.

According to authorities, Orta, who owns the Kids Palace Day Care, submitted applications on behalf of students that contained fraudulent documents stating that the students were attending full-time courses of study to receive scholarship funds.

Detectives said Step Up sent checks to the day care, which were deposited into Orta's bank account and totaled $130,249 from 2016 to 2017.

Authorities said Orta also instructed other people on how to defraud the scholarship program.

According to the Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation website, Orta is being held at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in lieu of $100,000 bond.

Attorney General Ashley Moody's Office of Statewide Prosecution will prosecute Orta.

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