Adoption Attorney Pleads Not Guilty in Ponzi-Like Scheme

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Mineola, NY—Accused of running a Ponzi-like racket by promising children to potential adoptive couples, yet not following through by delivering the children, a New York attorney has plead not guilty to grand larceny and other charges.

Kevin Cohen, 41, allegedly bilked couples from New York to Texas, but is charged in dealings he had with one particular couple, Deborah and Milton Josephs from Long Island’s Port Washington. The charges against Cohen were brought by the Nassau County District Attorney’s office.

The Josephs claim that they initially paid Cohen $35,000 for legal fees and expenses that would go to a potential birth mother. Shortly thereafter, he contacted them again requesting another $25,000 to secure a different birth mother.

Cohen was once the owner of an adoption agency called Adoption Annex, and his attorneys said that he had many satisfied clients. Yet other families, including some in Texas, Cleveland and Eatonton, GA, have come forward to add their voices to the accusations against Cohen. A grand jury is considering levying additional charges against him, but will not indict Cohen until it can be determined how many couples may have been affected by the scam.

According to some sources, Cohen repaid some of the couples money after reneging on the adoptions, which has led prosecutors to dub his dealings “Ponzi-like.” In a traditional Ponzi scheme, some investors receive a so-called profit from scams perpetrated against later investors.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said that this was more than simple fraud. “The emotional turmoil he put these couples through is unimaginable. You have couple after couple who just want to provide a nice loving home for a baby.”

Adoption agencies and attorneys generally charge, on average $30,000 per adoption. The money covers legal fees, court costs, and medical expenses for the birth mother. Says Gloria Houchman, a spokeswoman for the National Adoption Center, “…people might think nothing of handing over $65,000. They don’t realize this is above and beyond what an attorney should be asking.”

Cohen allegedly used several different excuses to explain to the Josephs, who have a 6-year-old girl, why no babies were forthcoming. In one instance, he told them that the birth mother had had a cesarean section which prevented the adoption, although he did not explain why.

Cohen, who is being held on $500,000 bail, has plead not guilty to the charges against him, which include grand larceny.

 

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