By Eder Campuzano
A Bend day care owner who had been accused of slipping children melatonin so that she could hit the gym and go tanning was sentenced to 21 years and four months in prison by a Deschutes County judge Friday.
January Neatherlin, 32, had been running an illegal childcare operation called Little Giggles for approximately four years and pleaded guilty to 11 counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment and one count of third-degree assault, according to court records. She had also lied to parents about being a registered nurse, even though she had no such qualifications.
Bend police, based on tips provided by a former boyfriend and a former roommate, surveilled Neatherlin last March and saw her leave the house twice while she was supposed to be watching seven children.
She drove her kids to school on the first trip. On the second, police found her at a local Tan Republic.
The children who had been left in her care during those excursions had the sleep aid melatonin in their systems, according to a sentencing memo.
Neatherlin had been telling parents they couldn’t pick up or drop off their kids between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Police checked Cross Fit and Tan Republic records to find that’s when she would leave the house, hours she referred to as “nap time.”
Since her arrest last March, Neatherlin had approached other inmates and asked them to claim they had worked for her. She also wrote letters to former inmates asking for bail money and promised to pay them from offshore accounts worth “a lot of money,” according to the sentencing memo.