The 57 families victimized by Orson Mozes in an adoption scam are entitled to the more than $300,000 in assets Mozes – who is now serving a prison sentence – had when he was arrested last year, Judge George Eskin said in a written decision released Wednesday, October 28.
Christen Brown, Mozes’s ex-wife, had objected to the funds being distributed to the victims, arguing that instead, she was entitled to the $301,971 for child support.
But Eskin, in a strongly worded decision, said he didn’t believe Brown’s testimony on the stand in which she denied she knew of Mozes’s actions, and said she was “probably complicit in the criminal activities” herself. While Brown most recently denied being a part of Adoption International Program, she claimed in past documents that she was the executive director of the agency.
Brown called several people to the witness stand in support of her self-portrayal as an innocent spouse. She also testified herself. But the judge said her “answers to questions were frequently evasive, and her bias was blatant. When viewed in the context of all the evidence, her testimony lacked believability.”
After an investigation by the District Attorney’s Office, Mozes was charged with 59 felony counts of obtaining money by false pretenses with a special circumstance of aggravated white-collar crime. Though he fled, he was arrested months later in Florida. Various assets, including $139,000 cash, $42,000 in two brokerage accounts, and $133,000 in gold coins were also recovered.
The judge, after a series of hearings with several witnesses, determined that the only people with “legitimately acquired interest” as prescribed by law were the victims of Mozes, not Brown, nor the couple’s daughter. Eskin said there was “overwhelming” evidence that the assets seized when Mozes was arrested were from Mozes’s business. He also found that a claim for child support does not have priority over restitution for the victims.
That determination was enough, Eskin said, but he also found that Brown was not an “innocent spouse,” as she claimed. He ordered the restitution begin to be paid immediately.
“I think (Eskin) hit the nail on the head,” said Paula Waldman, who prosecuted Mozes and fought for the money to go to the victims. “He saw through all the stuff I was hoping he would.” Waldman said she expected checks to go out to victims within weeks.
Brown’s attorney, Stephen Dunkle, didn’t return a phone call seeking comment.