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May 23, 2009 permalink
Does CPS have a court order? In California, it may be a forgery. And a Texas CPS worker has been convicted of making a false CPS report.
CPS worker charged with forgery
By Rob Young/Appeal-Democrat, May 23, 2009 - 12:58AM
A Sutter County Child Protective Services employee has been charged with forging a court record and a judge's signature, the Appeal-Democrat has learned.
Sarah J. Powell, 35, will be arraigned June 1 in Sutter County Superior Court, said Assistant District Attorney Fred Schroeder.
Powell is also charged with forging the seal of the state of California on a document, he said.
Schroeder said he could not comment on the motive behind the alleged forgery. He did not disclose which judge's signature Powell is charged with forging.
Powell and Child Protective Services officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
The three charges were filed May 12. Powell was not arrested but was sent a letter ordering her to appear in court, Schroeder said.
There are no other defendants in the case, he said.
Child Protective Services workers are county employees.
Sutter County spokesman Chuck Smith said he learned of the case from the Appeal-Democrat.
"I have no idea what her job status is," Smith said.
Contact Appeal-Democrat reporter Rob Young at 749-4710 or at email@example.com.
Source: Marysville Appeal-Democrat
Former CPS supervisor pleads guilty to falsifying a report
Woman falsely accused man of molesting child
By Mary Ann Cavazos, Originally published 02:24 p.m., May 22, 2009, Updated 10:19 p.m., May 22, 2009
CORPUS CHRISTI — A former Child Protective Services supervisor took a plea deal Friday for probation for falsely accusing a man instrumental in helping convict child abusers of molesting a child himself.
Grizelda Lopez-Hess, 38, pleaded guilty to a charge of making a false report of abuse. She still could be sanctioned to jail time.
Lopez-Hess was accused of making a call to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services on Oct. 9 and making a false indecency with a child report. The false report was made months after Lopez-Hess no longer was employed by CPS, which falls under that department.
As part of the deal prosecutors recommended she be sentenced to two years in state jail, which was suspended for three years probation.
The agreement includes the conditions that while on probation she stay at least 200 yards away from the man she falsely accused and his family, and not work with any child abuse victims. She also must attend anger management, complete 100 community service hours, pay a $1,000 fine and give $50 to the Nueces County Children’s Advocacy Center.
Prosecutor Angelica Hernandez also asked District Judge Tom Greenwell to impose one more condition — that Lopez-Hess serve 90 days in county jail. She said the jail time is warranted because the allegation prompted a CPS investigation and disrupted the lives of the man and the child he was accused of molesting.
Defense attorney Eric Perkins argued jail time isn’t appropriate for his client.
That issue will be decided by the judge at a June 1 hearing.
Hernandez said after the hearing that the falsely accused man approved of the plea deal and likely will testify along with the child at the next hearing.
A department spokesman has said Lopez-Hess had worked for CPS since 1997 and was the supervisor for the local sexual assault unit, until she was fired in May 2008 for sharing confidential information, which damaged her credibility.
Source: Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Addendum: At her trial, Mrs Powell invoked, what else, the best interest of the child.
Former CPS worker found guilty of forgery
By Rob Young/Appeal-Democrat, 2009-08-06 17:15:27
A Sutter County judge on Thursday found former Child Protective Services worker Sarah Jane Powell guilty of forgery after she admitted "cutting and pasting" a court document, including a copy of another judge's signature.
Judge H. Ted Hansen reached the verdict after a one-day trial in which Powell alternately wept and became angry under cross-examination by a prosecutor.
Powell testified she created the document April 15 so a foster child — a girl under the age of 5 — could get much-needed dental surgery. But Assistant District Attorney Jana McClung said Powell, who had just been reprimanded for not completing work on time, was trying to protect her job after failing to promptly file a true document.
Powell was fired after another social worker found a fake document, with Sutter County Judge Chris Chandler's signature taped to it, in a copy machine where Powell left it.
"Why did you do it?" Powell's attorney, Timothy Evans, asked her.
"I just panicked. I wanted to make sure (the foster child) got the procedure done she was scheduled for," Powell said.
Delaying the dental procedure, which was scheduled the next day, would have meant the child living in pain months longer, she said.
But Craig Hungrige, an investigator for the Sutter County District Attorney's Office, testified Powell told him soon after being caught that she was worried about losing her job.
Hungrige said he initially interviewed Powell at the CPS office on Live Oak Boulevard in Yuba City with her boss present. She denied knowledge of the fake papers, he said.
But when he and Powell, who knew each other from student days, walked to her car in the parking lot, Powell said, "Craig, I f----d up," and cited problems in her personal life. She acknowledged not getting her work done on time, he said. McClung aggressively cross-examined Powell.
"How many times had you done this before?" McClung said about the fake documents.
"I'd never done it before," Powell snapped.
Asked why she hadn't gone to supervisors to expedite the needed paperwork instead of forging it, Powell said, "I wish I knew the answer to that."
Evans said it was very unlikely his client would have been fired for not filing the papers on time.
"She foolishly chose the path that ended with her losing her job," Evans said in summing up the case.
Evans blamed CPS in general — and Powell's boss Roberto Garcia in particular — for delaying the dental work, which was first proposed in August 2008.
Powell took over the case from another social worker in February or March, according to testimony.
Two CPS employees testified paperwork moved slowly once it got to the desk of Garcia, who had to approve documents submitted to the court.
Powell said she complained to a superior about Garcia's "incompetence as a social worker."
Garcia testified he left Powell two voice mail messages and talked to her once in person about the dental procedure. Her response was, "Don't worry, I'll take care of it," he said.
Asked by Evans if Powell was a "poor social worker," Garcia responded, "I would say so, yes."
McClung summed up her case by saying Powell's forgery defrauded the dentist, who needed a legal document before doing surgery, and damaged the credibility of CPS and the courts.
Hansen scheduled sentencing for Sept. 18. Powell could be sentenced on just one of three fraud charges, or could serve concurrent sentences on all three, he said. Two of the charges are "wobblers," he said, meaning they could be reduced from felonies to misdemeanors.
If Powell is incarcerated, it will be in jail, not prison, according to McClung.
Source: Marysville Appeal-Democrat