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Former West Fargo day care operator Rankin sentenced to 18 months on fraud charge

FARGO -- Former West Fargo day care operator Tracy Ann Rankin will serve 18 months in prison for a fraud scheme that involved stealing the identities of two people, a federal judge ruled today.

U.S. District Court Judge Ralph R. Erickson gave Rankin 3 months credit to her 21 month sentence, because she paid $20,000 toward her restitution after her sentencing hearing this morning in Fargo.

After the payment, Rankin still has $37,583.91 in restitution to pay to the banks and individuals she swindled out of money. Following her prison term, Rankin will be on supervised release for four years, Erickson said.

Federal prosecutors recommended Rankin serve 15 months, but Erickson said the thoroughness of Rankin's scheme and her lack of accepting responsibility merited a sentence on the high end of what sentencing guidelines called for.

Rankin - whose married name is now Tracy Ann Roach - owned King of the Jungle child care center in West Fargo until it abruptly closed in November 2008 because of several deficiencies.

In 2009, federal prosecutors brought charges against Rankin that included mail fraud, identity theft and witness tampering. The remaining charges against her were dismissed, as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.