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Foster Avarice

September 1, 2010 permalink

Florida foster parents Radhames Antonio Oropeza and Asia Concepcion Oropeza found a way to supplement their income — stealing from their foster child. When the unnamed boy was 14, his father murdered his mother. The father was jailed and the boy was placed in foster care. At age 18 he got control of his mother's life insurance money, $400,000. The foster parents convinced the boy to place it in an investment where, unknown to the boy, the fosters were co-owners. They sequestered the money out of his reach.



Foster pair charged with fleecing ward

TAMPA - First, his father murdered his mother.

Then, authorities say, the teen's foster parents stole $400,000 in life insurance left by his mother.

Radhames Antonio Oropeza, 53, and Asia Concepcion Oropeza, 52, of Davenport, were arrested Wednesday on charges of conspiring to commit fraud and wire fraud against their former foster child, who now is 24.

"The nature of this crime stinks," U.S. Magistrate Thomas B. McCoun III told the Polk County couple.

They told McCoun they have two other foster children, ages 7 and 3, and receive about $900 a month from the state to care for the children.

Officials are not releasing the victim's name in the fraud case. He was 14 when he went to live with the couple after his mother was killed in New York; his father is serving a life sentence.

The teen received his mother's life insurance proceeds after he turned 18.

The Oropezas moved to Davenport about five years ago. According to a federal indictment, they flew the teen to Florida for a visit and tried to persuade him to use the life insurance money to invest in properties.

The victim agreed to deposit the money in certificates of deposit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert E. O'Neill said Asia Oropeza had her name added to the accounts without the victim's knowledge and used them as collateral for loans, transferring the money to another bank.

"None of this money went to the victim," O'Neill told McCoun.

He said the young man sent the couple letters and telephoned repeatedly trying to get the money. But the story kept changing about where the money was.

O'Neill said authorities were alerted by a lawyer who does pro bono work for foster children. He said investigators were unaware of the couple's two current foster children and would alert state authorities about the fraud case.

The couple said their income includes about $900 a month for each of two local rental properties. They also said they own their Davenport home without a mortgage and that Asia Oropeza owns a house in New York worth about $900,000, although that home is in foreclosure.

O'Neill said the government would seize properties to compensate the victim.

Reporter Elaine Silvestrini can be reached at (813) 259-7837.

Source: Tampa Bay Tribune