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Still no word on cause of Menomonee Falls fire


A Watchdog team blog

Jan. 18, 2010

By Raquel Rutledge of the Journal Sentinel

Jan. 18, 2010 0

No, we have not forgotten about the fire at Latasha Jackson’s house. No, we are not burying the news or deliberately withholding information about the blaze that destroyed the $1 million mansion in Menomonee Falls, as some readers have wondered in emails.

We simply have nothing new to report at this point.

Bill Cosh, spokesman for state Fire Marshal Tina Virgil, says, “It’s an on-going investigation” and that he cannot comment further.

Sources tell the Journal Sentinel some remnants of the fire were sent to the crime lab and that investigators are awaiting the results.

As it stands, the fire has not been declared arson. Investigators won’t say whether they’ve determined the origin.

Fire destroyed the house Dec. 27 while Jackson was on out of the state on vacation.

The house was assessed at about $1.1 million and was on the market for $1.39 million.

Fire investigators ruled the house was a total loss.

Jackson’s Jaguar convertible was also destroyed in the fire as was a Chevy Camaro.

Jackson is the child-care provider who amassed nearly $3 million from the taxpayer-financed Wisconsin Shares program while regulators ignored red flags that she was scamming the system.

The Journal Sentinel published a story about her and her Milwaukee child-care business called Kiddie Springs Child Development Center on W. Lancaster Ave. near 38th St. in August.

An anti-fraud task force in Milwaukee — with members from the FBI, the U.S. attorney’s office, the district attorney’s office, Milwaukee police and sheriff’s departments and the state Department of Children and Families — is investigating Jackson and her former businesses.

Records show Jackson was likely running what police and regulators refer to as a child-care ring, employing women with many children for the main purpose of enrolling the kids in her center and collecting state subsidies. The women don’t actually show up for work and the children don’t attend.

The newspaper compiled a paper trail on Jackson tallying more than 1,800 pages, detailing how regulators repeatedly failed to take action or cut off payments despite Jackson’s extensive violations, her history of lying and even regulators’ own outright proof of fraud.

Raquel Rutledge thumbnail
About Raquel Rutledge

Raquel Rutledge is an investigative reporter. Her work has been recognized with numerous national awards, including a 2010 Pulitzer Prize for exposing rampant fraud in Wisconsin's child-care subsidy program.

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