SANTA ANA, Calif.- A mother and daughter from Westminster have been charged with felony welfare fraud charges for bilking Orange County’s Housing Authority (Section 8) and the County’s In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program out of more than $190,000. The pair is accused of engaging in the largest housing fraud scheme in Orange County history.
Errica Madkins Mickens 55, of Westminster and Brittany Monet Mickens, 29, of Westminster, were arrested Thursday by investigators from the Orange County District Attorney’s Public Assistance Division.
They are currently being held at the Orange County Jail on $190,000 bail each.
Errica Mickens and Brittany Mickens are each facing one felony count of grand theft public housing fraud, one felony count of grand theft of housing funds, one felony count of medical insurance fraud of IHSS, and one felony count of grand theft of IHSS funds. They are also facing four enhancements of aggravated white collar crime over $100,000 and under $500,000.
They face a maximum of eight years in state prison if convicted on all charges.
“The County’s In Home Supportive Services program provides the ability for relatives to provide the compassionate care to loved ones in need,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “The brazen way this program was exploited by these two individuals to steal taxpayer dollars is beyond disturbing. If you’re going to cheat the system, we will find out and we will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”
Errica Mickens and Brittany Mickens used multiple birth certificates and identification cards in order to gain eligibility for public programs while concealing their true identities.
Errica Mickens is a current IHSS client who receives the maximum benefit, which is reserved for the most severely disabled clients who require 285 hours of assistance per month. Brittany Mickens was serving as her in-home care provider under the guise that her mother was unable to speak or walk.
While under surveillance by the District Attorney’s Public Assistance Division, Errica Mickens was observed moving trash cans, carrying vehicle tires, driving a vehicle, shopping in grocery stores and handling large suitcases without assistance.
The pair did not disclose their familial relationship when applying for public assistance. The investigation revealed that Brittany Mickens was the owner of the house for which her mother was illegally receiving a housing voucher.
Applicants are not eligible to receive housing vouchers while they are living in a home owned by a relative.
Errica Mickens and Brittany Mickens also recently flew to France, Belize, and Italy, posting pictures on their Facebook profiles of riding around Italy and touring Belize. Errica Mickens also posted a photo of her and her daughter on a rollercoaster at Disneyland Paris despite claiming to be bedridden.
The investigation revealed more than $600,000 in bank accounts held by Errica Mickens and Brittany Mickens as well as a 2019 Land Rover that the pair recently purchased.
The District Attorney’s Public Assistance Division launched an investigation into Errica Mickens and Brittany Mickens after being notified of discrepancies by the Orange County Housing Authority. The Orange County Housing Authority administers federal funding allocated to the County to provide monthly rental assistance to more than 12,000 very low-income households.
The investigation was assisted by the Westminster Police Department, the Orange County Probation Department, Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General, the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, and the California Department Health Care Service, which is the investigative arm of Medi-Cal.
Deputy District Attorney Demetra Lewis of the Major Fraud Unit is prosecuting this case.