Adoption, Toilet Seat Covers and Pet Rocks
After his toilet seat cover and pet rock ventures failed, Long Island attorney Kevin Cohen turned to another get rich quick business – adoptions. Cohen is accused of stealing $323,750 from 12 families and trying to take money from another family through a scheme involving non-existent birth mothers, forged documents and the impersonation of a bank employee and a personal reference.
While Cohen was passionate about adoption, as an adoptee himself, “his true passion was money,” said Nassau County Assistant District Attorney Andrew Garbarino who filed a 69 count indictment against the jailed former attorney.
Garbarino described the process by which he said Cohen strung along couples desperate to adopt a child.
“Every piece of information he offered to clients was a piece of bait,” the prosecutor said.
Cohen would always find clients through referrals from friends or relatives, which, Garbarino said, gave him instant credibility. He told clients he only wanted “a modest fee” because he was planning to get out of adoption law, but he said he was putting money for birth mothers’ health expenses in escrow accounts, according to Garbarino.
He forged test results and sonograms to lead clients along, working at the Roslyn Public Library to avoid having evidence on his computer hard drive, Garbarino said.
When Cohen passed along test results, the names of the non-existent birth mothers were redacted ostensibly because of privacy laws. As the supposed due date approached, Cohen would say the date had been pushed back and, finally, that the mother had backed out, the prosecutor said.
He would play on clients’ emotions, for instance, telling a gay couple that the birth mother wanted gay parents for her child, the prosecutor said. Garbarino added that Cohen even resorted to impersonation, once posing as a bank employee and once as a reference for himself.
Sounds like Jeannene Smith and Families Thru International Adoption has some competition. Unlike Smith and her cohorts, Cohen is facing 15 years in prison.