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Help Yourself to Cash

April 8, 2010 permalink

In the moral cesspool that is child protection, workers at all levels are tempted to turn their godlike powers to personal gain through embezzlement. There are too many stories like this to cover on fixcas. Here are just two from today's news, one about foster mother and Virginia DSS employee Eileen Patricia Maldonado, the other on New Jersey DYFS employee Ugochukwu Madubuike and confederate Onyinye M Nwokeji, all netting over a hundred thousand dollars each.



Foster mom ordered to serve 11 months

The woman embezzled more than $100,000 while working for state social services.

There was much that remained unclear Wednesday about Eileen Patricia Maldonado's decision to put herself on the dole.

She had lived a life of service as a foster mother and a benefits specialist at the state Department of Social Services office in Roanoke, where she awarded grants to the needy. But then she began sending checks to herself, clearing something in the low six figures before being caught.

In January, Maldonado pleaded guilty to five counts of embezzlement. Back in Roanoke Circuit Court to receive a sentence of less than a year in prison, Maldonado wept as she tried to explain what had happened.

To Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Wanda DeWease, Maldonado's actions were "probably as elaborate and sophisticated a scheme as had been perpetrated" and evidence of "greed ... unlike any greed that's ever been seen by the court around here."

Taking place from July 2007 to July 2009 amid the gathering state and local budget crises, Maldonado's thefts were a slap to city and state workers who went without raises and didn't break the rules, DeWease said.

But Maldonado said she was just reacting to a life out of control. She began issuing herself checks soon after one of five foster children she and her husband were raising was killed in a stabbing, she said.

About the same time, another child they had fostered revived an abuse complaint from a decade earlier. The complaint was again determined to be unfounded, but not before the Maldonados' other four foster children were placed elsewhere.

At the same time, Maldonado said, her sister and nieces cut off contact. She and her husband were on the brink of divorce. And her mother was diagnosed with cancer.

The only thing she felt she could still control was her job, Maldonado told Judge William Broadhurst, and "I was going to control ruining that."

How much she took was still in question Wednesday. DeWease said her office estimated the bogus awards at almost $126,000, but the social services department said it was more than $132,000.

And how the money was spent was a mystery too. Maldonado said she had frittered it all on "day to day stuff" and presently had just $12 in the bank.

She asked if she could be allowed to volunteer somewhere to help repay what she had taken, calling it "the only thing I have to offer at this point."

Broadhurst imposed a prison sentence of 20 years, to be suspended after Maldonado served 11 months and 20 days. She will be on indefinite supervision by the state probation office after her release and will have to undergo whatever psychological counseling her probation officer thinks necessary, he said.

And Maldonado would have to make payments toward a restitution Broadhurst set at $100,000.

"They can sue you for the rest," the judge said.

Source: Roanoke Times

Ex-N.J. child welfare agency employee admits forging clients' checks, tax fraud

TRENTON — A former employee of the state Division of Youth and Family Services pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday to charges he stole about $800,000 by filing hundreds of phony federal tax returns and claiming refunds using the personal information of clients he pulled from state files.

Ugochukwu Madubuike, 30, of Orange was a family services specialist with DYFS from June 2004 until November 2007, according to federal authorities who said he began his scheme in 2006 and continued through 2008, even after he left the state agency.

Madubuike admitted before U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano in Trenton that he used confidential information pulled from files at DYFS and other state departments to submit fraudulent tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service.

The returns resulted in more than 200 refund checks that were sent to addresses to which Madubuike had access. He forged the signatures of the payees on those checks, according to the charges, and deposited the checks into bank accounts controlled by him and a co-conspirator, Onyinye M. Nwokeji, 27, of Irvington.

Both men were arrested in November 2008 by federal agents after a Bank of America employee became suspicious about Madubuike depositing a tax return check bearing another person’s name. Federal authorities said they soon discovered numerous fraudulently endorsed checks were being deposited into accounts held by both Madubuike and Nwokeji.

A “federal information” to which Madubuike pleaded guilty showed checks ranging in payments of $2,000 to more than $8,000.

Madubuike pleaded guilty to mail fraud, conspiracy to pass forged treasury checks, and making false claims to the treasury department. He is scheduled to be sentenced July 14. Nwokeji, who had pleaded guilty to similar charges in February, is scheduled to be sentenced May 15.

The maximum possible sentence each man faces on the most serious charge, mail fraud, is 20 years in prison.

Source: Newark Star-Ledger