Published January 13, 2015
A New York woman has pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges in an adoption scam involving 11 disabled children she kept like prisoners in her Port St. Lucie, Fla., home.
Judith Leekin admitted she used false names to adopt the children and sent officials phony school report cards to qualify for the adoption subsidies. The 63-year-old also admitted restraining the children with plastic ties, preventing them from getting out of bed and not sending them to school. All the children were found near starvation, and had never been to a doctor or dentist.
Leekin faces a potential up to eight years in prison. She will also forfeit more than one million dollars in subsidies collected over nearly two decades.
She'll be held in New York until her July 15 sentencing. She will then return to Florida to face abuse charges in a separate case. She has pleaded not guilty.
Her lawyer says he's in plea negotiations with Florida authorities.