Social worker sentenced for selling children's information

by: Blake Hanson Updated:

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CHARLOTTE - A judge sentenced a former Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services worker to probation and home detention for selling private information of 25 children.

FBI agents said Ieshia Watkins, 33, used her access as a social worker to sell the names and information of 25 children to a man named Ronnie Robinson for $10,000. 

According to court records, Robinson then used it to file $30,000 in false Medicaid claims for his non-profit mental health service.

He pleaded guilty in January after draining $3.4 million from Medicaid in fraudulent reimbursement payments.

During her sentencing hearing Monday Watkins' attorney said she was "remorseful" and had cooperated with investigators from the start. Watkins' also addressed the court and apologized.

"I regret hurting the families that were affected by my actions," Watkins said.

Watkins refused to answer a Channel 9 reporter's question after the hearing but her attorney spoke on her behalf.

"We said what we needed to say in court but we're glad that this is history now," said attorney James Exum.

During the hearing, Exum referenced an "inapproriate relationship" that might have led to the criminal action. Exum said it was not an excuse but "inappropriate relationships" can "become other things". Exum would not elaborate on the relationship after the hearing. 

While the case is over, it might have sparked permanent change at the county level. A county spokesperson told Eyewitness News that it conducted its own investigation and is now requiring additional mandated confidentiality training. It has also placed a renewed focus on the internal fraud hotline.

Watkins began a three-month period of home detention Monday. She will remain on probation for two years.