Day-care center tied to sting operative shut down

PHILADELPHIA State officials shut down a Philadelphia day-care center run by the man at the heart of a political-corruption scandal Friday, a day after a surprise inspection found that children there were potentially endangered.

Public Welfare Department officials cited conditions that created a likelihood of an "immediate and serious danger to the life or health" of children at the Logan Child Care and Resource Center at 4802 N. Broad St.

The center is owned by Tyron Ali, an undercover operative who sources say taped five Philadelphia Democrats accepting cash or gifts.

Efforts to reach Ali's lawyer were unsuccessful Friday.

State officials said the inspection was prompted by news accounts that questioned Ali's education. The Inquirer has reported that Ali, 40, did not graduate from Temple University, as he has claimed.

About 3 p.m. Friday, officials issued an emergency removal order, which requires children to be immediately taken from the site. Parents arriving at the center were offered help finding other child-care options.

On Thursday, inspectors found 21 violations, according to the removal order.

Three workers lacked proper child-care clearances, and no one had required proof of first-aid training. One worker was supervising 20 children; the required ratio for that mix of infants and toddlers is one staffer for four children.

Inspectors saw a 7-month-old in an infant car seat throughout their visit, the removal order said, and an 8-month-old was sleeping face down on a blanket in a playpen.

Ali can appeal the closing, a process that takes weeks at the minimum, but may not have children in the center during that time.

The lobbyist turned government agent escaped hundreds of day-care-related fraud charges in 2010 by agreeing to go undercover.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane halted the investigation, a decision that has drawn criticism.

Those close to the sting said Kane killed a solid inquiry that caught fellow Democrats taking money and gifts - conduct that Kane has characterized as criminal. Kane said the case was so poorly handled, and Ali's credibility so tainted, that she believed it could not be successfully prosecuted.

215-854-4906 @JeffGammage