Attorney sentenced in $300K adoption scheme

December 7, 2010 2:30:15 PM PST
A Long Island man claiming to be an adoption expert who stole $300,000 from prospective parents for babies that did not exist has been sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Kevin Cohen, of Roslyn, was convicted last month in Nassau County Court of grand larceny, forgery and other charges.

Prosecutors say Cohen scammed hopeful couples with fake sonograms and fictitious records on forged stationery from hospitals and doctors. Thirteen prospective parents testified against him at his three-week trial.

Cohen, who represented himself, said during the trial that he suffers from multiple illnesses including bipolar disorder.

Although he apologized before sentencing, Cohen remained defiant after the hearing and vowed an appeal.

"I cannot wait to address the appellate division, and have my first opportunity to meet with due process, there's a 70 percent plus overturn rate of guilty convictions in Nassau County," he said.

His victims made the trek to court today, some from as far away as Georgia, to beg a judge to sentence Cohen to the max.

"All we wanted was a baby. That's all we wanted. A baby. And he doesn't understand the grief that he caused," Brigid Vodt said.

"It really has torn apart our lives, and jaded the way we teach kids to trust people. Now we can't trust anyone," Michael John Rhomberg said.

During the four-week trial, the jury heard testimony from 13 prospective parents who had been scammed by Cohen who previously had headed an agency called the Adoption Annex. The Adoption Annex had been set up to provide information to prospective adoptive parents, but was defunct by 2008.

In most cases Cohen's adoption scam scenario was similar. He would tell the couple that he had a young, unmarried mother who lived in either in Nebraska, Pennsylvania, or Arizona who wished to give up her baby for adoption.

Couples would then give large sums of money to Cohan, believing it would be held in escrow to pay for the medical costs and other expenses of birth mothers who wished to put their babies up for adoption.

One couple paid Cohen $60,000 after he claimed that he had located two prospective out-of-state birth mothers who were looking to give up their babies for adoption. In reality, these birth mothers did not exist and were fabricated by Cohen. Cohen went as far as to create forged medical records and information for the fake birth mothers which he gave to couples looking to adopt, Rice said.

"Kevin Cohen preyed on people at their most vulnerable with no remorse about what he was doing," Rice said. "He stole more than just money from these couples. He stole their dream of making a family."

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