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Former adoption agency operator avoids prison by paying up

Times staff

TAMPA — The former director of a Tampa Bay area adoption agency who admitted bilking prospective parents will avoid prison time.

On Monday Debra W. West, 58, repaid the last of the money she stole, adding up to a restitution total of $178,479.76 plus $2,754.70 in clerk fees. In keeping with a plea agreement, Hills­borough Circuit Judge William Fuente sentenced her to 15 years of probation.

West faced up to 30 years in prison.

Prosecutors said that the former executive director of Adoptions by Choice embezzled money from clients that was supposed to be used to cover expenses for birth mothers, and that she and her agency created fake documents and lied to adoptive parents about how their money was spent.

Twenty couples, from eight Florida counties, were listed as victims in the case.

Former adoption agency operator avoids prison by paying up 03/22/10 [Last modified: Monday, March 22, 2010 11:01pm]
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