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Adoption Lawyer Absconds
January 13, 2006 permalink
A Chicago adoption lawyer has hid her fees in Switzerland and fled her jurisdiction. What kind of a lesson does this give the children she steered through the adoption process? The large amounts of money show how lucrative the adoption business can be.
Fugitive lawyer indicted in tax evasion
A Chicago lawyer disbarred for overbilling state child-welfare officials evaded more than $640,000 in federal taxes, partly by moving $2.6 million in assets to a Swiss bank account, according to a federal indictment made public Thursday.
Joyce F. Britton, 55, failed to file tax returns for 2001 and 2002 despite receiving more than $2.2 million in legal fees from the Department of Children and Family Services during those years, according to the indictment.
She also failed to file tax returns for 1999 and 2000, according to the charges. Britton was charged with two counts of tax evasion and four counts of failing to file tax returns.
Britton is a fugitive believed to be living out of the country, said Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago. He said federal investigators are pursuing leads and hope to find and extradite Britton.
Prosecutors had no further comment Thursday on the case.
The charges against Britton allege that from September 2002 to November 2003, she sent about $2,569,950 worth of U.S. assets "to be liquidated and deposited into a Swiss bank account that she held." In December 2002, she destroyed her business records, the indictment said.
The Illinois Supreme Court disbarred Britton last year, following the recommendation of a hearing board of the state Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.
According to the hearing board's report in 2004, Britton was a lawyer in private practice and a member of the Cook County Adoption Attorney Panel from 1999 to 2001.
As a member of the panel, she contracted with DCFS to handle "special needs" adoptions, the report said. Those cases involve children who have been, for example, physically or sexually abused or born exposed to drugs or alcohol.
Britton's job was to help prospective parents understand the adoption agreement and to advocate on their behalf, helping them to obtain certain state subsidies and medical benefits.
Source: Chicago Tribune