Friday, September 25, 2009

The $65,000 Challenge

Adoption Scam Artist Arrested

September 25, 2009 - Updated 9/26/09

Attorney Kevin Cohen, 41, from Long Island, NY is accused of running an adoption scam that cheated prospective parents out of thousands of dollars by falsely promising them babies that didn't exist.

Cohen was arrested at his home Friday in Roslyn by DA Investigators. He has been charged with grand larceny in the second degree, scheme to defraud in the first degree and criminal possession of a forged instrument (a phony document supposedly from Nebraska he showed to prospective parents), according to the Nassau County District Attorney's Office.

If convicted he faces up to 15 years behind bars

For over a period of two years, Cohen is accused of advertising himself as a legal expert specializing in adoption proceedings. He allegedly obtained large sums of cash from couples in exchange for arranging adoptions.

Despite being arrested in 2009 on charges of grand larceny, forgery and identity theft charges, Cohen is accused of continuing to search for people looking to adopt. One couple - identified as Deborah and Milton Josephs of Port Washington - apparently shelled out $65,000 in hopes of adopting a child.

The District Attorney's Office is asking anyone who believes they may have been a victim in the scam to contact officials at: 516-680-8624.

Cohen's attorney, Matin Emouna of Mineola, said that the allegations against his client are unfounded and that the dispute between Cohen and the Josephses is a civil, not a criminal, matter.

"He's helped a lot of adoptive parents," Emouna said. "He is an adopted child himself. He relates very well to the needs of adoptive parents."

He added: "My client has not hurt a single soul."

Baby Buyers portrayed as VICTIMS, Deborah and Milton Josephs

Take out your violins: Deborah and Milton Josephs of Port Washington wanted to add to their family so their 6-year-old daughter could have a sibling.

They said that they bought two car seats and a "Big Sisters Rock" T-shirt. They prepared the baby room.

But after hearing "lie upon lie upon lie," Deborah Josephs said, the couple contacted an attorney, setting off an investigation that led Friday to the arrest of the Roslyn adoption attorney that they had hired to adopt a baby.

"When the babies didn't materialize, we got suspicious," said Deborah Josephs, 44.

Why aren't who pay this kind of money likewise arrested for baby buying, or attempting to buy a baby...just as "johns" who solicit prostitutes are sometimes arrested? I see that as one way to stop the practice.

The other way is to stop all profiteering in adoption.


triona said...

"Why aren't who pay this kind of money likewise arrested for baby buying, or attempting to buy a baby?"

That is a really good question.

AdoptAuthor said...

NY news, which headlined the story: Adoptive Parents Heartbreak or some such tearjerky "story at 11".... had the weeping "victims" on crying their hearts out, saying:

"There was no birthmother. There was no baby."

And they were simply played up as hapless victims!

$65 grand?!??? What were they buying Angelina and Brad Pitt's baby? OR:

Pure white, blue eyed, blonde hair, still wet from delivery, strings attached...mother, who is a brain surgeon and father who is a physicist want no contact.

maryanne said...

One of the stories I saw on this said Lawyer Kevin Cohen is also "an adopted child" himself. The plot thickens! A really bad case of "Adopted Child Syndrome," going in a larcenous rather than violent mode?:-) Gotta watch out for those "child" lawyers!

Also wondering at the high price these people paid and why that is not questioned. If he had produced the kids there would be no complaints.

Anonymous said...

He is the David Ellis of New York

Anonymous said...

Anywhere from $ 20,000 to $ 35,000 is not an unusual amount to pay for expenses of adoption these days unfortunately. Usually, the bulk of this is going to places other than the birthmother. There is the attorney or agency fee which is often anywhere from $ 5,000 to $ 10,000. Depending on what state it is and the laws there, the birthmother can request living expenses. This would include her rent, food, electricity, etc. Some states will allow her to request this for the entire length of the pregnancy. Other states will limit the amount or the period of time she can collect it. On top of that, in some cases the birthmothers do not have medical insurance to cover the pregnancy and do not want to go on medicaid so the prospective adoptive parents have to pay all medical expenses associated with the pregnancy. And, last, if one is doing an adoption in a different state, they need attorneys both in the state which they reside in and the state they are adopting in. So, two attorneys have to be paid.

AdoptAuthor said...

Yes, that is the going rate which is what makes this so shocking. Can go as high as $40 -0 except for DESINGER babies!

And yes, he IS adopted. I know someone who knows his family and rmemebers when they "got" him!

Anonymous said...

KC knew every workaround to avoid the red flags adopting couples would look for prior to choosing him as an attorney.

This couple represents only a small fraction of the people he has duped. They were just the first to begin process of exposing his scam- Thank G-D -the money can be replaced- the lost time and hope CANNOT!

AdoptAuthor said...

Anon, as you may have noticed, I am not too sympathetic with the alleged "victims" of these crimes.

Those hurt the most by slipshod unscrupulous adoption practitioners are NOT the paying customers who are simply disappointed they did not get what they intended to's the children and the original families who loose a great deal more than money, time or hope combined!

Their coming forward IMHO is like junkies complaining their drug dealer ripped them off!

Anonymous said...

Hundreds if not thousands of couples who choose to adopt choose pvt practitioners to serve as the conduit for adoptions (one of a few mechanisms)

Your analogy to "victims" of this type of fraud to forthcoming junkies complaining about their dealers ripping them off is not just offensive but indicates a clear lack of sensitivity to the severity of the crime and represents an abvious level of affect dislocation.

What drives your insensitivity?

AdoptAuthor said...

Sorry you feel that way. That's how I see it.

If you are willing to pay nearly double the going fee - seems you have some idea that you are buying, shall I say "hot goods" - not totally "kosher" and above board? Especially when there are 129,000 children in foster care who could be adopted for very minimal filing fees and maybe even =subsidies...and considering children are kidnapped, stolen and trafficked worldwide to meet a demand for younger babies...

As MaryAnne said, if they succeeded in getting what they were willing to pay do much for, just like a junkie buying his junk - there'd be nary a complaint to be heard!

I am offended that you do not see baby buying as reprehensible; commodifying human beings as repugnant.

That is offensive to me. And it offensive to me that demand drives the corrupt world of adoption. And it is offensive to me that anyone would be part of the problem.

What am I lacking sensitivity to? This disgustingness has absolutely nothing to do with the pain of infertility if that is what you are suggesting. I m highly sensitive to all mother losses - from the loss of a dream of baby that cannot be conceived or carried to term; to miscarriages and still birth...and I am equally sensitive to the lifelong pain of those of us who lose our children to the adoption industry because of the demands of others who are somehow judged to be more deserving to parent.

All of these losses are extremely painful and I downplay no ones pain. Likewise so to is it painful to lose a limb, or one's vision...but no one condones organ buying and more than baby buying. They are all illegal and immoral.

I hope that answers your question.

Anonymous said...

Here's the scoop to clarify your assertion of baby buying: If KC was legit he would receive maximum of 5k as a fee. The remainder (up to 15k) is appplies to hospital, medical fees etc with mom getting approximately 10k.

There are various fee structures-this is just one.

Further, coupleswho choose agencies typically need to advertise and wait a prolonged period upward of 1 year to 18 months. Couples who desire to expedite the process choose the services of a pvt practitioner who they are supposed to get personalized focus (K Cohen clearly your atypical attorney if we can call him that)

Baby buying phrase can be applied to ANY $ one would expend irrespective of venue- agency, org or pvt Attorney. BTW Baby brokering is illegal in all 50 states. You may be confusing the notion that an individual is hired to facilitate an adoption outside court system, not so- Home visits, certification -background checks etc are part of pvt practitioner's routine.

AdoptAuthor said...

Dear Anon,

What state allows $10k - or any amount - to be paid to a relinquishing parent over and above expenses? That constitutes baby buying which is illegal in alll states, and it is exactly why attorneys came up with payment of expenses as a loophole around that law.

In NY State - where this attorney practiced the law regarding permissible fees is is as follows:

Statute: Soc. Serv. § 374(6)

* Actual medical and hospital costs.
* Other necessary expenses related to pregnancy.
* Legal fees.

Birth Parent Expenses Not Allowed

Statute: Soc. Serv. § 374(6)

* Payment of expenses shall not exceed 30 days after birth or consent unless court determines exceptional circumstances.

As for adoption facilitators in NY state:

Allowable Payments for Arranging Adoption

Statute: Soc. Serv. § 374(6)

No person shall receive payment for placing a child or assisting a parent in arranging a placement.

This means that adoption facilitators are prohibited from practicing - or at leaST getting paid - in NY state.

They are only permitted to operate in 6 states.

For a complete list of al states and the laws regarding adoption facilitators, please see Appendix, page 221 The Stork Market.
For a complete list of

AdoptAuthor said...

More on allowable fees per Child Welfare Information Gateway, a governmental website:

In private placement or independent adoptions, the adoptive parents may pay some of the birth mother's expenses, particularly in the case of a pregnant woman planning to place her infant for adoption. Approximately 45 States, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands have statutes that specify the type of birth parent expenses a prospective adoptive family is allowed to pay.3 The actual dollar amount is usually limited by the standard "reasonable and customary."

The types of expenses most commonly allowed by statute include:

* Maternity-related medical and hospital costs
* Temporary living expenses of the mother during pregnancy
* Counseling fees
* Attorney and legal fees and guardian ad litem fees
* Travel costs, meals, and lodging when necessary for court appearances or accessing services
* Foster care for the child, when necessary

Approximately seven States explicitly prohibit adoptive parents from paying certain types of expenses.4 Costs such as educational expenses, vehicles, vacations, permanent housing, or any other payment for the monetary gain of the birth parent often are excluded. In 16 States, the statutes do not exclude specific types of expenses, but do indicate that any expense not expressly permitted by law or considered by the court to be unreasonable cannot be paid by the adoptive parents.5

Approximately 17 States specify time limits for the payment of the birth mother's living expenses or psychological counseling.6 The time limits set for these payments can range from as little as 30 days to as long as 6 months after the child's birth or placement. For example, Iowa allows postplacement counseling for 60 days but limits payment of living expenses to 30 days. New York limits payment of living expenses to 60 days prior to the child's birth and 30 days after. Oklahoma allows payments for postplacement counseling for up to 6 months but limits other expenses to 2 months beyond placement. In six States, the payment of expenses may not exceed a set dollar amount, unless the court grants an exception.7

Anonymous said...

I think you may find that there are some people that pay big bucks simply because adopting from the foster care system, believe it or not, is ridiculously hard! Trust me, I know from experience. People, like myself, are directed via social services to private agencies that receive government grants providing they find find homes for 9 children per year from the foster care system. These people are put through the whole training process, background checks, medicals etc and then are told that they can't search for children out of the state they live in, they have to adopt one child of 9 years or older and finally, they are restricted to search only in certain areas of their state!

AdoptAuthor said...

You are RIGHT! I do not believe it. Why is there need to "search" unless you are specifying or limiting criteria? There are 129,000 children in foster care who could be adopted! Ys, many re over 9 years of age. However, I know personally of a couple who adopted a two-year old African American boy by participating in the foster-to-adopt program. Yes,it's risky. Yes, you may love a child who is able to be reunified with his family and you have to let go. Letting go is very difficult for all - including natural families!

It all boils down to motivation and a balance between what you want and how much you are willing and desirous to do help a child who needs someone on his or her side.

Are older or disabled kids for everyone? Absolutely not! Does that mean that you search for a child who is "right" for you and pay the piper - absolutely NOT! Because that proliferates baby selling. If you cannot have a child of your own, and you do not want a special needs child to care for, then you find other ways to help kids like donating to SOS Village - or not.

However, NO ONE - and I repeat NO ONE - NEEDS to spend $65,000! That is outrageous and over all limits of "usual" or acceptable fees.

Anonymous said...

If I hadn't taken an active role in the "Search" for my children, I still wouldn't have any. Because I did all the "searching" I now have two amazing special needs children from the foster care system. I didn't have a criteria. I just wanted children.
I know several couples that did the adoption training with my husband and I, 3 years ago, are still waiting for kids from the system even now.

AdoptAuthor said...

I apologize but I don't understand.

What state?

Were you searching within your state? You cannot adopt through social services from out of state, can you?

Did you adopt from social services?

Did any of you try foster-to-adopt?

Anonymous said...

As I explained, when people make an initial contact with social services with regard to adoption, they are directed to private agencies which receive grants from social services. These agencies then carry out the adoption training, back ground checks, home checks and home study. After that very long, drawn out process, families (sometimes up to a year) are either "approved" or disapproved for special needs adoption. Fortunately, my husband and I were approved. (By the way, when we first joined our agency, we were told we couldn't apply to do the new born baby programme because we aren't religeous......we didn't want to adopt a new born anyway but never the less, it was the first of many things that shocked us. If you were religeous and a smoker, that was fine!)
All the way through our adoption training, my husband and I searched the adopyuskids website for our children. We found a sibling group of two in North Carolina, brother and sister, 5 and 7. We knew in our hearts that these were our children only to be told after approval, that our agency (not social services) were no longer doing the out of state adoption programme due to lack of funding. We were therefore restricted to our state only. (The North Carolina state line is a 10 minute drive from our home). We were devastated! We hoped that after approval, our case worker would have a list of children from the foster care system for us to consider but there was nothing. We asked "what do we do now?" to be told "well, just just have to wait" "For how long" we asked "Could be up to two years" she replied. From then on, there are many things that shocked us, even disgusted us! All those many, many thousands of children in the system and state lines amongst many other things were preventing good, honest people from adopting.
My story is such a long one.....I have also made a few waves in the adoption world of my state and wish to remain anonymous at this time as my husband and I want to adopt one more child from the foster care system. I do however plan on writing a book about our adoption journey when we have completed our family.
Your last question....."Did you try foster to adopt?" No, we didn't feel we would be able to cope with the loss of a child once a child had been placed with us. So we did an adoption programme only. We were told be social services that becoming a foster parent was the fastest way of getting children however. Something else that shocked us!

AdoptAuthor said...

Well apparently ypou were shocked at what is not at all shocking to me, and you left the ,most important FIRST STEP of the process out until I knew the right questions to ask:

You DID have criteria and that was refusing to accept the idea of foster-to-adopt and THEN you were sent to private agency who offered you infats and had religious restrictions.

State foster care attempts to put the best interest of children first. It is in their best interest to be with a family, but it also in their best interest not to unnecessarily sever their ties to their original families too hastily. If you cannot respect that, then you go privately. And that's what you did.

Anonymous said...

No, we didn't go privately, we adopted children from the foster care system. The only thing we paid for is our finger prints and back ground checks. And, NO! We DID NOT HAVE a "criteria"!
I think you are suffering from tunnel vision. It seems to be your way or the highway.
You talk of preserving families.....would you preserve the family of my daughter whom at four months old was so severely shaken that she died and had to be resusitated! Or preserve the family of my son who's mother decided to give him rat poison one day? Not everything is so black and white but you're obviously only interested in what YOU want to believe and that's fine.......I'll leave you to it.

AdoptAuthor said...

1. My definition, and the accepted definition, of family preservation is to the right and does not include supporting abuse.

2. YoU SAID, and I QUOTE: "No, we didn't feel we would be able to cope with the loss of a child once a child had been placed with us." That's fine. that's your prerogative. But it is a choice and a means of selecting. it is a CRITERION!

3. YOU SAID, and I QUOTE: "they are directed to private agencies which receive grants from social services."

How can you say then sent you to a private agency - where you were offered INFANTS - and then say you did not go privately?

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