Roslyn lawyer Kevin Cohen may be guilty of an "adoption Ponzi scheme" in which he defrauded an unknown number of trusting couples out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in adoption fees for babies who didn't exist, Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said Sunday.
Since the attorney was arrested Sept. 25, five couples - two from Long Island, two from New York City and one from Texas - have come forward to complain that Cohen stole money from them, Rice said in an interview.
The allegations came within 48 hours of Cohen's arrest for allegedly bilking Deborah and Milton Josephs of Port Washington out of $65,000 in fees associated with their plan to adopt a baby through him, she said.
Rice said the district attorney's office is doing a wide-scale investigation of complaints against Cohen, and did not rule out the possibility of more families coming forward. The Texas complaint suggests that Cohen may have defrauded families in multiple states, she said.
"His tentacles are reaching outside of the boundaries of New York State," Rice said. She said Cohen may have used funds from new clients to partially refund a client who had not obtained a baby.
Cohen is jailed on $500,000 bond and faces a Wednesday court date at First District Court in Hempstead to respond to charges of second-degree grand larceny, first-degree scheme to defraud and third-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, an alleged bogus document he showed to prospective parents.
Cohen entered a plea of not guilty last week, said Cohen's attorney, Matin Emouna of Mineola, adding it would be "premature to comment" on the investigation.
One of the five couples, Ben and Brigid Vogt of Seaford, said they believe they lost $22,500 to Cohen and will meet with prosecutors Monday. Ben Vogt said they had hoped to adopt a baby so their 2 1/2-old son would have a sibling.
Cohen promised the Vogts that he had a baby lined up for them from an 18-year-old Pennsylvania woman, Ben Vogt said.
"I don't even know if this girl exists or not," Vogt said. "I'm 99 percent sure she doesn't."