Fired Miami social worker gets 1 1/2 years in prison for extorting families of refugee children

As a newly hired employee for a Miami social services agency, Leslie Rubero Padilla’s job was to reunite unaccompanied refugee children with their parents or legal guardians in the United States.

She was supposed to charge the families only for transportation, such as airfare. But authorities say Rubero shook down more than a dozen of them by insisting they had to send her additional money or the reunification with their children would be delayed — or, worse, they would be deported back to their native country in Central America.

“This case is just so shocking because this defendant preyed on the most vulnerable people,” federal prosecutor Daniel Bernstein said at Rubero’s sentencing hearing on Friday. “Why is it so offensive? She calculated that these are people I can rip off because they are not going to report it.”

The prosecutor asked U.S. District Judge Darrin Gayles to send Rubero, who pleaded guilty to wire fraud in September, to prison for four years. Bernstein pointed out that she not only exploited the poor parents and guardians for a total of $11,100, but also noted: “She had legal custody of their children.”

A version of this column originally appeared in:

Immunity for Guardian Ad Litem destroys Connecticut family – Part 2

Skipp_family_photo_s640x427WASHINGTON, DC, March 1, 2013 - In Connecticut, the phrase “for the sake of the children” is often thrown around on custody cases involving child victims of violent crimes.  However, cases like 9-year old Max Liberti’s suggest that some family court appointees are more likely to favor the opportunity to continue billing families for unnecessary, even fraudulent services, over what is best for the child.

After all, children living in safe environments do not need Guardian Ad Litems (GAL), evaluations, or therapy to protect and rehabilitate them.  When Max disclosed that his father raped him, the GAL and other professionals charged his family a whopping total of $1.5 million for their services. Yet most of the 40+ professionals assigned to his case spent little or no time with Max, or did not know him at all before making recommendations that forever severed his relationship with his mother.

Often the court appoints a GAL to advocate for the child’s “best interests” instead of asking the children for direct input. The GAL then bills the parents for asking other strangers appointed onto the case what’s best for the children.

In 2003, the Connecticut court decided that the GAL has the exclusive right to speak on the child’s behalf, yet there are no requirements as to how much time a GAL must spend with their ward.  To clarify the GAL’s role, the court drew the bright line rule that “Just as it is not normally the province of the attorney to testify, it is not the province of the guardian ad litem to file briefs with the court.” (In re Tayquon H., 821 A.2d 796 [Conn. Ct. App. 2003]).

While the Judicial Branch provides free certification trainings[1] for GAL’s, there is no central oversight process in place to review the quality of their work, yet they enjoy qualified immunity for their actions.[2]

What exactly is the Judicial Branch training GAL’s to do?

GUARDIAN AD WHO? THE SKIPP-TITTLE CHILDREN

When Susan Skipp’s daughter Gabrielle truthfully disclosed[3] that her father assaulted her family, Susan was ordered to use the majority of her income to pay the fees of various court appointed professionals she could not afford. Attorney Mary Brigham was appointed as the children’s GAL, and Dr. Kreiger[4] and Dr. Horowitz [5] were appointed to assess the family and provide them with therapy. A court issued an order forbidding Susan from speaking to the children about the litigation, seeking domestic violence support for them, or “disparaging” the father who allegedly assaulted them.

As GAL, Brigham billed the children’s home at a rate of $300 per hour to represent the children’s wishes and best interests. Billing records show that between September 2010 and November 2011, she billed over 196 hours, including only five meetings with the children.[6] It’s impossible to tell whether the children met with Brigham alone, how long these meetings were, or what was said.

Invoices show during this period, Brigham’s time was largely spent talking to other providers who barely knew the children or recently met them, emailing unnamed parties, speaking to Dr. Tittle and his attorney, and talking about billing matters. Susan was also charged for the time Brigham spent drafting, filing, and successfully prosecuting motions, including as many as three motions she personally filed seeking to hold Susan in contempt for nonpayment of GAL fees. Susan says that last July, Judge Robert Resha held her in contempt, then threatened to incarcerate her if she refused to immediately liquidate her teacher’s retirement pension to pay Brigham $20,000 in fees.

Susan also saw Horowitz and Kreiger’s unorthodox billing practices as red flags that made her doubt the legitimacy of the appointments.

My divorce agreement states that the parents will see Dr. Krieger for parent counseling. Instead, Dr. Krieger drafted up an agreement for co-parent mediation,” says Susan. This was improper she says, because “Mediation is a legal service that is not covered by health insurance and must be court ordered.”

Susan says that Kreiger charged Aetna for treatment, despite the fact that she was required to provide him with a $2,500 retainer and pay expenses out of pocket.  She questioned whether Dr. Kreiger was billing for treatments that were unnecessary or improperly performed.

Dr. Krieger also performed psychological evaluations on the family,” Susan says. “Those need to be ordered by the court too, and were outside the scope of his appointment as a counselor.” Susan adds that one such evaluation had flawed results because it was done against medical advice immediately after her car exploded, leaving her hospitalized with head injuries.

When Susan requested copies of the records and bills, then questioned Dr. Horowitz and Dr. Krieger’s refusal to address the assaults or the father’s struggles with addiction and the law with the children, both providers recused themselves from the case.[7] [8]  However, Brigham then asserted privilege on the children’s behalf, thereby prohibiting Susan from obtaining documentation from either provider.[9]

“While Kreiger and Horowitz testified in trial that there was no domestic abuse, they both used domestic violence codes when billing Aetna,” says Susan.  Dr. Horowitz testified that he used one medical chart for 2 children, used the wrong billing codes with the insurance company, then failed to inform the parents and the GAL that he had diagnosed the children with serious mental disorders.[10]

Brigham decided it was “not in the children’s best interests” to have them testify at trial.

“ARE YOU HERE TO SAVE US?”

Once when their father refused to pick his children up for three days of parenting time, I had the pleasure of meeting Susan’s children. The children seemed traumatized not only by the violent crimes perpetrated against them, but also by the fickle will of the courts to intervene on a moment’s notice and upend their lives without including them in these decisions. Given their isolation and the infrequent, yet intensely hostile interactions between Brigham and the children, it was no wonder they sought answers from me the moment their mother left the room.

“Are you here to save us?” Gabby asked. “Someone has got to help mom stop my father. We are afraid because he hurts us.”

“No honey,” I told them, “I’m just a journalist, I can’t save anyone.”

They begged me “Please write something to make Mary Brigham listen so the court will not make us live with my father.”

My heart was heavy because they too felt the inevitable, that darkness was coming for them, and they knew they were helpless to stop it.

With Judge Munro’s trial decision not yet issued, in September 2012 Dr. Tittle sought to permanently sever all of Susan’s parenting rights and access to the children. Judge Gerard Adelman heard testimony that the children refused to visit with Dr. Tittle for the stated reason that they feared for their safety. When Brigham refused to talk to them about these concerns, the children refused to get in the car with her. Brigham told the children she was unconcerned, then demanded they get in the car so she could bring them to Dr. Tittle’s [which they did not do.]  Consequently, Judge Adelman granted Dr. Tittle’s motion for sole custody with the caveat that the court would permanently terminate all of Susan’s parenting rights if she were even 5 minutes late for any future visits.

One week later, I attended the hearing on Dr. Tittle’s second motion to terminate Susan’s parental rights.  Judge Munro called Judge Adelman’s orders “draconian,” then criticized Brigham’s role in instigating the proceedings by acting outside the scope of her appointment as Dr. Tittle’s “taxi driver.” As we left the courtroom, Brigham informed me that she had filed her affidavit of fees a month ago. Subsequently, neither I nor the court staff were able to locate Brigham’s affidavit.

Ultimately, Judge Munro awarded Dr. Tittle sole custody of the children, then constructed a “set-up-to fail” parenting plan that effectively terminated Susan’s access to the children. Susan retains the right [on paper] to purchase a few hours per week with her children at Visitation Solutions, Inc.,[11] which is affiliated[12] with Horowitz and Krieger, and located over an hour away from the home she and her children once shared.

Judge Munro denied Susan’s request for alimony, then awarded Brigham $70,000 in fees, despite the fact that Brigham never filed an affidavit disclosing her billing. After Judge Munro recused herself from hearing Susan’s case, Brigham’s subsequent motions to garnish Susan’s wages were denied pending the outcome of Susan’s appeal.[13]

Since October 2012, Susan filed for bankruptcy and has not been able to afford to purchase time with her children. Dr. Tittle[14] has refused to allow the children any contact with their mother, and remains on criminal probation for driving under the influence, reckless driving, and evading responsibility (leaving the scene of an accident.)[15]

Brigham has scheduled a status conference for April 4th to discuss payment of her fees, garnishment of Susan’s assets and tax returns.

Who’s best interests have been served?

IS THERE A COMMON DENOMENATOR?

Horowitz and Dr. Kenneth Robson often conduct the court’s “free” GAL certification trainings together with Judge Munro.  Court records show that when Dr. Kenneth Robson[16] and Horowitz[17] are involved and the State is paying, the parents are often ordered not to communicate with their children about the trauma they experience. The GAL exclusively communicates directly with Horowitz about the children’s care, and only the GAL will speak to the children about the litigation.

“One of the core issues is the qualified immunity GAL’s enjoy, which results in much of the judicial outsourcing to them,” says advocate Peter Szymonik. He points out that a major reason why parents cannot even find relief from excessive GAL fees in bankruptcy is that the court categorizes it as child support, which is nondischargable. “This leads to excessive and unnecessarily billings which permanently financially devastate parents.”

While Szymonik says the system is biased against parents, Journalist Keith Harmon Snow has documented over 70 CT cases[18] where fathers who committed legal offenses, have gained custody of child victims. The mothers were often required to purchase parenting time through outrageously expensive, even corrupt supervised visitation providers, who extorted them out of relationships with their children. Now permanently destroyed and bankrupted by abusive, often deadly State sponsored litigation, these families have no recourse.

“GALs are, in fact, paid by judges even ahead of child support,” says Szymonik. This translates into a multi-million dollar fraud and state sponsored corruption which is financial devastating families and parents, harming children, and fleecing taxpayers.”

To additional documentation related this journalist’s investigative report on the Connecticut courts:  http://www.scribd.com/JournalistABC

REFERENCES:

(1)        2-22-2011 Transcript re: Liberti v. Liberti:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/126529767/Liberti-v-Liberti-Transcript-of-2-22-2011-Hearing

(2)        CT Resource Group Contract With CT Judiciary re: Court Staff Education:

(3)        CT Resource Group Court Invoices Part 1:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/125725460/Connecticut-Court-Billing-Invoices-Part-1-Dr-Howard-M-Krieger-and-Dr-Sidney-S-Horowitz

(4)        CT Resources Group Court Invoices Part 2:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/125730381/CT-Court-Billing-Invoices-Part-2-Dr-Howard-M-Krieger-and-Dr-Sidney-S-Horowitz

(5)        Dr. Horowitz’s Testimony re: Medical Billing Irregularities (Tittle v. Tittle):

http://www.scribd.com/doc/126272714/Dr-Sidney-Horowitz-Testimony-re-Medical-Billing-Irregularities-Shawn-Tittle-v-Susan-Skipp

(6)        Dr. Horowitz’s Bills re: Boyne v. Boyne:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/126239188/Dr-Sidney-Horowitz-s-Billing-Records-PART-3-Boyne-v-Boyne

(7)        Dr. Kreiger’s Documentation re: Tittle v. Tittle:

(8)        GAL Mary Brigham’s Invoices re: Tittle v. Tittle:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/125759601/Attorney-Mary-Brigham-s-Billing-on-Shawn-Tittle-v-Susan-Skipp-Case-Middletown-CT-FA10-4022922-S

(9)        Maureen Murphy’s billing re: Liberti v. Liberti:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/126246491/GAL-Maureen-Murphy-s-bills-re-Liberti-v-Liberti-Guardian-ad-Who

(10)      N.J. Sarno’s Billing re: Liberti v. Liberti:

(11)      Dr. Robson’s Court Invoices:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/122480531/Dr-Kenneth-Robson-s-payment-records-obtained-from-the-CT-Judicial-Branch

(11)      Dr. Robson’s Billing re Liberti v. Liberti:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/126252311/Dr-Kenneth-Robson-s-Bills-re-Liberti-v-Liberti

 


[1] http://www.jud.ct.gov/external/news/AMC_GAL_Training_Poster.pdf

[2] http://www.cga.ct.gov/2013/rpt/2013-R-0098.htm

[3] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126588063/Skipp-Kreiger-Documents

[4] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126588063/Skipp-Kreiger-Documents

[5] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126272714/Dr-Sidney-Horowitz-Testimony-re-Medical-Billing-Irregularities-Shawn-Tittle-v-Susan-Skipp

[6] http://www.scribd.com/doc/125759601/Attorney-Mary-Brigham-s-Billing-on-Shawn-Tittle-v-Susan-Skipp-Case-Middletown-CT-FA10-4022922-S

[7] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126272714/Dr-Sidney-Horowitz-Testimony-re-Medical-Billing-Irregularities-Shawn-Tittle-v-Susan-Skipp

[8] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126588063/Skipp-Kreiger-Documents

[9] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126588063/Skipp-Kreiger-Documents

[10] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126272714/Dr-Sidney-Horowitz-Testimony-re-Medical-Billing-Irregularities-Shawn-Tittle-v-Susan-Skipp

[11] http://visitationsolutions.com

[12] http://www.collaborativedivorceteamct.com

[13] http://civilinquiry.jud.ct.gov/CaseDetail/PublicCaseDetail.aspx?DocketNo=UWYFA104022992S

[14] http://www.newstimes.com/local/article/Danbury-man-charged-with-DUI-

[15] http://www.jud2.ct.gov/crdockets/CaseDetail.aspx?source=Pending&Key=371c238b-8016-481a-ab71-61ede4040160

[16] http://www.scribd.com/doc/122480531/Dr-Kenneth-Robson-s-payment-records-obtained-from-the-CT-Judicial-Branch

[17] http://www.scribd.com/doc/125730381/CT-Court-Billing-Invoices-Part-2-Dr-Howard-M-Krieger-and-Dr-Sidney-S-Horowitz

[18] http://www.consciousbeingalliance.com/2013/01/summary-of-connecticut-court-judicial-abuse-cases-january-2013/

Title IV E fraud

Here's a phone number for Title IV E fraud.
Burmese Dissidents And Exiles Detained In Mae ThailandIf you have had a child removed by CPS/JV court and they stated that 'reasonable efforts were made' to prevent or eliminate the need for removal - but reasonable efforts were NOT made - they are committing fraud to get federal funding. PLEASE report it to the feds. The number is 800-447-8477 then option #5. I made my report and it only took a few minutes. I told the intake gal that this is not an isolated incident (because it isn't). There is strength in numbers, so do report this if it happened to you. Having the names of the SS workers and judge who did it will make it go quicker (also their contact numbers).

Who Really Loses …

Robert Kennedy once said; "Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly"

quote-about-life-achieve[1]The Bulger trial is a lesson in action. It demonstrates that both Bulger and Government Employees are Guilty and all the players should be put away to simply deter others from doing the same; putting an embarrassing period of our country's history to rest.

When will that happen in the Child Protection Arena?

In this case, the NH Supreme Court thinks you should know about fraud as it is happening, FYI:Fraud is meant to deceive. While it may appear there are no appeals left to this case, the child who has lost the most will now have everything needed to bring action against all of them and the statute of limitations starts on their 18th Birthday. Parents’ don't forget that; win, lose or draw you have all the information you'll need for them; to bring their abusers to justice.

The saying, "what comes around goes around” has some satisfaction in this case. Here are some of the results to date:

Def. Dr. Vonderheide apparently spent all the money paid to her by the Father/Grandmother in this matter, but apparently still owes a bit to the attorney who defended her; consequently, she is now selling out in shame. We'll only be happy when she is no longer practicing and hurting others anywhere.

DCYF

In general, Legislators are now countrywide taking 2nd, 3rd and even 4th looks at the way they do business. Making Ms. Bishop's trail of deceit harder for her to gloss over, because we're still watching, reporting and squashing. Even though the NH Attorney General has her back and not the publics, social workers like this one  are coming forward and talking about the bonuses and how they purposefully destroyed families.

Tracy Roukey finally received her demotion and we're keeping an eye on every case she and Tracey Gubbins and some others come in contact with until their out.

Def. Geno who felt she had to close RTT associates to protect it, due to her own acts, only reopened on 6/26/13. Be sure to click on it because she listed herself as a member of RTT to throw off others in pursuit of suing her, but she is nonetheless the sole proprietor. We will be sure to highlight her gross neglect and continue to warn others to be aware of her hateful approach to anything she takes on.

As for the Judges involved, like the Southern Poverty Law Center, we will be looking to take them out of practice, sue and/or remove them from office along with the authorities who continue to exploit their power because we are determined to make sure that what happened in this case never happens again.

The father and step-mother in this case have to sweat it out and explain to their children why this is being printed about them. While they can be transferred around as teachers under a union contract.  More and more of prior Charlotte Ave School Students are reporting their experiences with these two. Reports of students being physically restrained in a public school setting and false reports to DCYF in other cases.  The family matter is still ongoing and the father is still in contempt, with a court that believes that the if and when a child should see his mother should be left to an abusive father/x-husband. They better make sure nothing happens to this child or any other in that house.

The Martial Master, Alice Love, retired two weeks after this case was filed against her, but she needn't have had worried because she collected enough on Supreme Court Justice Linda Dalianis to buy her way back into a part-time position...

So, who wins and who loses in these cases? No one wins because when you stand up for yourself and make others aware there is a problem, things slowly change and people like the above pay in numerous ways not always the direct way you imagine, but sometimes it is more than enough to help others stand up for themselves.

The Child, here is the victim, one who has been denied his mother’s love and commitment to him.   Mother's make a choice to have children and when threatened continuously as in this case, they do not back down, they continue to fight and expose corruption at every turn in this case and others so that their child knows she did everything to protect them including depleting resources and going to school for law.  It’s just money and unlike the damage here, countless moments between a child and his mother lost, the money can simply be remade.

The Important thing for parents to know is that in parental alienation cases the children are looking for you and if you listen very carefully, the clues that they still love you are there albeit a bit buried, they are suffering as shown in research by Amy Baker. Grown Children who have experienced this will tell you that no matter how hard it is and no matter how many times you leave a visit crying because your child/children have been coached to hate you, don’t stop, don't give up, and it's ok to have a life.  They just don't want to think of you in a life without them.  Keep it in the moment and look out the window and you'll see the other parent and/or step parent waiting; waiting to make sure that even though you can both leave that you never do. Why, simply because they are the mental cases.

Our Children are the ones losing...the world should be a better place for them.

 

A version of this column originally appeared in legallyaccessible.blogspot.com.

Foster care families shocked by allegations of fraud at Community Care Resources

Dan and Mary Simon, of Community Care Resources.

Dan and Mary Simon, of Community Care Resources.

As news of alleged scams at Community Care Resources spreads through the foster care community, some foster families connected to the agency contend the complaints against owner Dan Simon and his spouse, Mary, can't possibly be true, while others state they've long had uncertainties about the couple's business practices.

The State Journal interviewed more than a lots former and existing Community Care Resources (CCR) foster parents and heard contrasting views of the Simons, split about equally.

Some explained the couple as fiercely committed to foster children and motivated just by a need to help young people, especially those with deeply troubled pasts. Others slammed them as aloof and said they seemed generally thinking about lining their own wallets.

Foster families were joined in their discouragement over the accusations, stating the unfavorable publicity will make a difficult job all the tougher.

"The general view of foster parents is that they're just in it for the cash, that they're just bleeding these children for everything they can, and then something like this shows up and it reinforces stuff like that," stated Gordon Cunningham of La Farge, who, with his spouse, Barbara, operated a CCR-licensed foster home for 23 years.

The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families alleges the Simons charged taxpayers millions of dollars for unallowable expenditures, including inflated incomes, holidays to Hawaii and Alaska, and the upkeep of multiple estates, cars and watercrafts.

The state has revoked CCR's license, although the Middleton foster care agency has the ability to stay operating during an appeals procedure.

Simon is battling the allegations. He has actually decreased interview requests.

Tough cases

The company, founded by Dan Simon in 1989, focuses on discovering foster homes and providing treatment for some of culture's most difficult cases, consisting of kids who have committed sex offenses or mistreated drugs or alcohol.

Counties refer foster kids to agencies such as CCR, which then put the children with foster parents they've trained and licensed. The foster parents receive a regular monthly stipend based upon the needs of the child, ranging from $ 220 a month for a routine placement to $ 2,000 a month for a child with substantial needs. Such agencies receive an optimum flat cost per child of $ 63.50 per day, or about $ 1,900 regular monthly, for management expenses.

CCR offers a clinical care supervisor who meets the foster parents and the child in their estate weekly to help correlate treatment. CCR utilizes a qualified child psychologist on staff and provides outpatient therapy programs for children.

The state's accusations include only finances at CCR's headquarters, not troubles with the care in CCR foster homes.

"We've been with other companies and this business, by far, has actually been the most effective," stated Wayne Neumann of Waupaca, who's been a foster parent for 12 years, the last 2 with CCR. He praised the company's training and its quick feedback to issues.

Foster parents say they've been assured by state and county authorities that if CCR were to lose its license, all efforts would be made to keep kids in their present foster homes. Still, the looming allegations are causing anxiety.

"CCR is my household. We all support each other," said Melissa Schenck of Cross Plains, a CCR parent for more than 12 years.

Claudia Borgeson of Whitewater, a CCR foster parent for the past 15 years, stated she has actually never heard an additional foster parent speak ill of the Simons.

"We all regard Dan and Mary, so this is a real shock," she stated. "I think they run a company that absolutely keeps an eye out advantageous interests of these children.".

Borgeson stated she has actually always been thrilled with the means Dan Simon approaches issues conscious young people, such as exactly how they're viewed by their peers.

Simon firmly insists that foster children get to pick their very own eyeglass frames, instead of having the most inexpensive ones thrust on them, and he requires foster parents to invest at least $ 50 of their monthly stipend on new garments for the child, she said.

Borgeson hopes the allegations are a huge misconception.

Among the couple's staunchest advocates is Laurie Oldigs of Lyndon Station, a CCR foster parent for the past 13 years. She's been composing letters in support of the Simons to politicians.

"I think they are sincere, honorable individuals," she said. "I 'd be completely floored if they did anything wrong.".

She was amongst three foster parents who utilized the word "vendetta" to explain what they think might be occurring. Oldigs mentioned past clashes Dan Simon has had with the state over foster care rules as a reason he might be targeted.

No surprise.

For other foster parents, some of whom soured on CCR after feeling mistreated or discounted, the state accusations came as not a surprise.

" 'They finally got caught'-- that was my downright first thought," said Joni Weaver of Madison, who stated she and her spouse, Jon, worked as CCR foster parents for a small amount of over a year in the mid-1990s prior to investing the next 15 years as certified foster parents with Dane County.

"The reason we gave up was due to the fact that it wasn't about the kids," Weaver stated of CCR. She found it especially galling, she said, that she and her spouse got $ 800 per month to take care of a child with serious mental health and behavioral problems, while CCR received $ 1,000 per month in management costs for the child. Before, CCR staff spent "just about 30 mins a month with us," she said.

"They got their checks and that was all they cared about," Weaver stated. "They made us feel like human piggy banks.".

The Simons' way of living raised the eyebrows-- and the suspicions-- of Nancy Swartout of Appleton, who retired in 2011 after 8 years as a CCR foster parent.

"You constantly understood something was going on because of the bling-- the gold views, the automobiles, the means they dressed," she said. "After we 'd get out of a meeting with them, my spouse and I would think, 'We're truly getting screwed, since we're not seeing any of this.'".

Barbara Cunningham, a 23-year CCR foster parent till last year, stated the business's head office in Middleton struck her as "very grand," particularly given that foster parents were discovering it significantly tough to get compensated from CCR for things such as mileage and release care.

"We were expected to tighten up the belt, but I couldn't see any belt-tightening continuing them," she stated. "We were always finding out about these big journeys they were taking.".

Others said the couple's spending habits did not strike them as excessive for two individuals who worked so tough. And a number of strongly defended them against allegations of callousness.

"I've seen the method they've looked at the kids," Schenck said. "I've seen the empathy when they inquire about a certain child.".