NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Federal prosecutors said they busted an $18 million bribery and fraud scheme involving city officials and a string of daycare centers in Brooklyn and Staten Island.

More than 30 centers were involved.

Investigators said the suspects paid thousands of dollars in bribes to city officials to look the other way, allowing the centers to get government funding for children who never enrolled.

The investigation was called “Operation Paycare.”

“Those centers catered to low income, working families who sought to provide daycare for their children while their parents worked their jobs,” said Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney.

Federal agents arrested four center providers and seven government workers.

Investigators said the bribes also helped the day care centers to operate without proper fire and safety codes.

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