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Alleged plot at center leads to 3 arrests

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HERRIMAN — The owner and two employees of a child day-care center were arrested Friday afternoon after they were accused of plotting to harm several other employees who had reported what they said were fraudulent activities at the day-care center to authorities.

Police arrested Michaele M. Meier, the 30-year-old owner and director of the Small Wonder Development Center, along with employees Jeremy Stewart, 28, of Kearns, and Leslie Zimmerman, 26, of Herriman, on Friday and booked them into the Salt Lake County Jail. Stewart posted bail shortly after the arrest.

Meier is being investigated for alleged conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, insurance fraud and prescription fraud, said Salt Lake County Sheriff's Sgt. Paul Jaroscak. Stewart and Zimmerman are being investigated for alleged insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, Jaroscak said.

Numerous investigators from the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office with assistance from the Division of Child and Family Services served a search warrant at the facility, near 13200 South and 5700 West, at about 1 p.m.

Sheriff Aaron Kennard said at least eight sources informed his investigators that people at the center were planning to execute a plot within the week to stage a home-invasion robbery against three former employees and cause them physical harm.

The attack was to be carried out in retaliation for the former employees becoming whistle-blowers and being responsible for the day-care center's license being revoked by the state three weeks ago, Kennard said. The center was allowed to remain in operation during the appeals process.