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.”

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ADOPTED-Alleged abuse victim liked to ‘concentration camp survivor’

PEORIA, AZ (CBS5) - A Peoria couple face felony child abuse charges after two of their adoptive daughters outlined a pattern of ongoing physical and psychological abuse at the hands of their parents that began five years ago as an attempt, the mother said, to "train" the girls to be "loving and nurturing."

Johann Jorg admitted to spanking two of his adoptive children with a wooden paddle. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)

Johann Jorg admitted to spanking two of his adoptive children with a wooden paddle. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)

Johann Glenn Jorg, 61, and his wife, Kimery Lynn Jorg, 53, were arrested Thursday afternoon at their home in the area of the Loop 101 Agua Fria Freeway and Bell Road in Peoria. Each face four charges of felony intentional child abuse with intent, according to a police statement.

The Jorgs are the adoptive parents of four girls, ages 7, 8, 11 and 13 years old.

The 11- and 13-year-olds were found by police to be severely malnourished and emaciated, according to the statement.

The 13-year-old was hospitalized May 30 and in a condition likened to a "concentration camp survivor." She was severely malnourished and medical personnel were wary of re-feeding syndrome, a dangerous condition when a malnourished person begins to receive proper nutrition, according to the statement. She remained in the hospital Friday morning.

The girl also had abnormal growths on her legs, severe "leathering of the skin on her buttocks due to repeated beatings, and calloused and blistered feet consistent with running on the pavement barefoot, according to the statement.

Kimery Jorg said she doled out most of the punishment to the girls because she was home most of the time. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)

Kimery Jorg said she doled out most of the punishment to the girls because she was home most of the time. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)

The 13- and 11-year-old girls told police they were forced to run several hours a day, were spanked several times a day with a wooden paddle, and forced to memorize, recite and repeatedly write Bible verses without any mistakes or suffer further punishment, according to an investigating officer's statement. The oldest was also forced to live in the backyard nude with only a bucket to use as a bathroom, according to the statement.

According to Child Protective Services, all potential foster parents are required to complete 30-hours of training including lessons on appropriate and acceptable discipline techniques. CPS Spokeswoman Jennifer Bowser said these were lessons the Jorgs should have completed and understood as former foster parents.

Neither parent denied punishing the two for lying and stealing, and acknowledged that Kimery Jorg doled out most of the punishment because she was home with the children and that Johann Jorg spanked the children with the wooden paddle and recently shaved the head of the 13-year-old, according to the statement.

The parents admitted the girls were often spanked several times a day over their clothes.

Neither parent was able to describe to police actual instances of the girls stealing anything, though Kimery Jorg said a single Mentos breath mint was missing during a trip to Colorado and that 22 items from a relative's house were stolen during the trip, though she could not detail any of the items.

The parents said they often "suspected" the children were stealing, and the 13-year-old said she once was caught taking food because she was hungry.

The 13-year-old also said she was forced to eat "prison food" consisting of oatmeal for breakfast, prunes and crackers for lunch and grits with salsa for dinner, according to the report.

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Group home counselor accused of drug possession with intent to sell

drug-possession-north-carolina[1]A group home counselor and driver for ChildFirst Services faces numerous drug and weapon-related charges after state troopers found suspected heroin, cocaine and raw marijuana at his home, the Wayne County district attorney’s office said Friday.

State troopers and the district attorney’s office drug task force detective also found drug paraphernalia, an electronic scale and two .22 caliber revolvers with obliterated serial numbers during the search of the home Abraham Nyanti was renting in Lake Twp.

District Attorney Janine Edwards said authorities were still investigating whether the 24-year-old sold or gave drugs to any youths but at this point was “thankful that the officers were able to make this arrest before a child who Mr. Nyanti supervised was hurt.”

Police went to Mr. Nyanti’s 107 Batzel Road home in Lake Ariel after neighbors had complained about “suspicious activities” and smelled burnt marijuana when they spoke with him at his door, authorities said.

Mr. Nyanti allowed police to search him and his home, during which police found, among numerous items, multiple bags of suspected heroin stamped with the word “Barbie” and one bag of what authorities believed was cocaine, prosecutors said.

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Goodyear foster father sentenced in child abuse case

GOODYEAR, Ariz. - A Valley foster father accused of severely injuring a 15-month-old girl in October 2013 has been sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison and lifetime probation.

Judge Jeanne Garcia sentenced Pedro Manzo, 36, Friday morning, according to Superior Court of Arizona spokeswoman Karen Arra.

Manzo had previously changed his November plea of not guilty to guilty on two counts of child abuse.

A probable cause complaint revealed the injured girl "kept throwing her sippie cup" so Manzo admitted he "grabbed under her jaw, shook her in a side-to-side motion and applied pressure to her jaw and throat that caused her to pass out."

"Her neck is fractured. She has blood clots," said Rosa Valle, the girl's biological mother, Oct. 30, 2013, two days after the incident. Valle showed pictures of her daughter in a neck brace at the hospital.

Valle said her 15-month-old daughter and 3-year-old son had been abused previously by Manzo, who is their foster father.

Goodyear police arrested Manzo on Oct. 29, 2013 and charged him with child abuse. Though Child Protective Services was not able to comment on the case, Valle provided documents that show Manzo is the foster father of the two children.

"(Manzo) is in jail, and I think he deserves to be in there," said Valle.

Manzo was released from custody just nine hours after being arrested for child abuse.

Valle said she notified CPS on several occasions that she suspected abuse in the home, but said her concerns were not addressed.

"My kid tells me, 'Mommy, mommy Peter (Manzo) hit me. Peter hits me, mommy. Peter don't let me eat,'" Valle said.

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Poloncarz admits bumpy ride in Child Protective Services

AR-140529467[1]Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz Friday acknowledged that serious problems remain in Child Protective Services, with 33 disciplinary actions taken against workers over the past year, including five firings and nine suspensions.

But he said a call by two county legislators for Social Services Commissioner Carol Dankert-Maurer to resign is simply an effort to “scapegoat” her for problems that the county is working to fix.

Poloncarz also revealed that a CPS worker had been scheduled to visit 8-year-old Jacob Noe in his North Buffalo home on the same day he was stabbed to death, allegedly by his mother.

Poloncarz was responding to a demand made earlier in the day by two county lawmakers calling for Dankert-Maurer to resign following the latest revelation that a CPS worker was in the midst of investigating the welfare of a child who later wound up dead.

Legislature Majority Leader Joseph C. Lorigo and Legislator Lynne M. Dixon on Friday morning called for Dankert-Maurer’s resignation following a Buffalo News article pointing out how a CPS investigation into Jacob’s living conditions and concern over his mother’s mental health languished after a caseworker assigned to the case had been suspended earlier in an unrelated matter.

Lorigo and Dixon insisted Dankert-Maurer should resign not only because of Jacob’s death but because of how other cases were handled by CPS in which children later died at the hands of their parents of caregivers.

“As many people have, I’ve grown frustrated learning about these deaths through the media,” Lorigo said.

“The Department of Social Services is $800 million of our $1.4 billion budget, and if Commissioner Dankert-Maurer is unable to do her job, which she has shown she is unable to do so, I think it’s time for a change,” he added.

Poloncarz on Friday confirmed that the CPS worker in the case was suspended without pay after failing to meet department standards in a large number of cases prior to Jacob’s death.

He said the suspended worker’s cases were reassigned to other workers for immediate follow-up. Children assigned to the suspended worker’s caseload were visited on the first day that worker was suspended, he added, noting that on the second day of the original caseworker’s suspension, a new CPS caseworker was scheduled to visit Jacob and his mother.

“Tragically, the child was murdered by his mother in the early morning hours of the day the visit was scheduled,” Poloncarz said.

“The loss of any child’s life is a tragedy, especially one taken in a violent manner. Our focus remains on preventing similar tragedies from occurring in the future,” he said.

Jacob’s mother, Jessica L. Murphy, has been charged with second-degree murder. A relative said she suffers from bipolar disorder. Police initially said there had been no CPS investigation into Murphy, 29, who remains in the Erie County Holding Center.

David R. Addelman, Murphy’s assigned attorney, said he is paying close attention to the latest developments regarding CPS.

“This adds another layer to what is already a complicated and tragic case,” Addleman said Friday.

Meanwhile, Poloncarz on Friday said his administration is conducting a thorough review to determine if additional changes are necessary at CPS.

“Making a scapegoat of any single individual will not improve the department, nor will it better protect children from harm,” the county executive added.

Earlier Friday, Lorigo insisted it was time to replace Dankert-Maurer because of CPS workers’ apparent failure to protect children under its purview in four high-profile cases over the past three years. Lorigo said he hand-delivered a letter to Poloncarz calling for Dankert-Maurer’s resignation.

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