No matter what side of the adoption triangle you are on, adoptive parents, birth parents, adoptee, I think we will all have the same reaction to this one.
Through the Adoption News, abridged from a story originally filed in The New York Times by BENJAMIN WEISER
Two officials of New York City’s child-welfare agency and the fiscal director of a Brooklyn foster care agency have been charged with creating phantom adoptions in a scheme to pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars intended for the care of children with disabilities or special needs, federal authorities said on Wednesday.
One of the two officials of the city agency was also charged with issuing government checks for work that was not performed in return for kickbacks. The senior Children’s Services official accused, Lethem Duncan, was the deputy director of the payments-services department, federal prosecutors said.
In the phony-adoption scheme, the officials said, Mr. Duncan worked with the second employee, Nigel Osarenkhoe, who they said used the agency’s computers to create false names and issue checks as if they were subsidies for real adoptions.
Prosecutors said that Mr. Osarenkhoe told Mr. Duncan that he had figured out a way to manipulate the agency’s computer system to cause adoption subsidy payments to be mailed to whomever he wanted.
“These defendants were driven by greed,” Michael Garcia, the United States attorney in Manhattan said, “and they placed their own self-interest above the well-being of the children served by A.C.S.”
The announcement of the charges came a day after the sentencing of Judith Leekin, who was convicted of fraud after she adopted 11 children under four aliases and collected $1.68 million in payments meant for the children’s care, which she used to support a lavish lifestyle. Ms. Leekin was sentenced to nearly 11 years in prison.
Prosecutors said that the phony-adoption scheme relied on cooperation from Stay Thompson, the fiscal director of the Brooklyn foster care agency, Concord Family Services, which they said had received more than $28 million in contracts for foster care and other services in recent years.
In that scheme, prosecutors said, Ms. Thompson received about $79,000 in illegal payments and agreed to share the proceeds evenly with Mr. Duncan and Mr. Osarenkhoe. Ms. Thompson was arrested on Tuesday.
The claims of problems involving money at Concord are not new. Late in 2006, its executive director resigned after an audit by the city comptroller’s office found that she had spent tens of thousands of dollars at luxury stores using the agency’s credit card. The director said at the time that the purchases were made to benefit foster children.