Friday, October 29, 2010

NW Indiana official indicted in adoption case

A Case to Follow...

A Newton County (northwestern) Indiana commissioner has been indicted on misconduct and other charges over her role in her daughter and son-in-law's effort to adopt a Florida woman's children.

Newton County commission President Roxanna Hanford, 53, of Thayer, was booked Thursday and released on bond.

She was INDICTED on Tuesday by the grand jury on seven charges including official misconduct, profiting from an adoption, child selling, and obstruction of justice. State police say child welfare officials asked them to investigate.

Hanford tells The Associated Press she acted properly and sought no financial gain. The 53-year-old Democrat from Thayer says the pre-election indictment is politically motivated.

Hanford says her daughter and son-in-law now have custody and are working to adopt the four children, ages 2, 3, 4 and 6.

The grand jury probe, led by a special prosecutor out of Jasper County, stemmed from a December 2008 case in which four children from Florida were left in Indiana without proper legal guardianship, according to an Indiana State Police press release.

Charges were filed Thursday in Newton Superior Court, police said.

Hanford was booked Thursday in Newton County Jail and was released on bond. She released a statement denying the charges and calling the case politically motivated.

"The allegations that have been made against me are absolutely false and have nothing to do with the performance of my job."

Hanford claimed she only was helping a mother under duress.  [Apparently, by helping her OUT of her children!].

The mother of the children -- Ann Marie Hutcheson, 26, of Hosford, Fla. -- was charged in July with child neglect and profiting from an adoption.

Hanford, a Democrat, is seeking re-election for the District 2 Newton County commissioner seat against Republican Timothy R. Drenth.

Hanford is currently free on bond pending trial in Newton Superior Court, where she faces four felony and three misdemeanor counts.

Hanford, reached at home Thursday afternoon, said the charges are false and in a written statement said, "This is nothing more than a blatant political and personal attack coming just before (Tuesday's) election on me and my family."

Sgt. Ann Wojas, spokeswoman for Indiana State Police, said Hanford's arrest is connected to charges filed last July against Ann Marie Hutcheson, 26, of Hosford, Fla., on allegations Hutcheson brought four of her children, all younger than 5, to Indiana and left them without proper legal guardianship.

Wojas said the Indiana Department of Child Services discovered an irregular adoption scheme while investigating a complaint of child neglect and contacted state police. Authorities didn't release details of the charges Thursday afternoon. The Newton County Sheriff's Department referred all inquiries to state police.

Hanford, a Democrat running for re-election Tuesday and described on her website as a longtime resident and business owner, said her daughter and son-in-law were seeking to adopt children two years ago. "My daughter cannot have (their own) children, and she and my son-in-law were in a foster-to-adopt program," Hanford said.

Hanford said she and another Indiana couple came into contact with Hutcheson through a go-between who arranged for them to meet in Tennessee, where two children were given to Hanford's daughter and son-in-law and two to the other couple.

Hanford said the other couple were preparing to divorce in April 2009 and asked Hanford to take custody of the Hutcheson's two other children. However, Hanford said she and the other couple later had a falling out and the other couple involved DCS, who took custody of all four children.

Hanford said she didn't receive any money for the adoption and didn't use her office as commissioner to forestall any investigation. She said her daughter and son-in-law aren't charged with any wrongdoing.

"My attorney and I will fight this case, and when I am found not guilty of anything except kindness, everyone will know what a political act this all has been," Hanford said.

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