Adoption Agency Owner Trial Goes To Jury

Denver News, December 10, 2008

A jury is now deciding theft and fraud charges against the owner of a Boulder-based adoption agency.  

Lisa Novak is accused of defrauding two families as they attempted to adopt international children. Novak closed her Claar Foundation adoption agency in December 2007. 

 According to a news release from the Boulder Police Department, Mr. & Mrs. Singh (first names withheld to protect their identity) paid Novak $36,466 in fees to help them adopt a child in Guatemala. They adopted that child, a son, at the end of 2007. They paid Novak another $25,700 to help them adopt a second child they met in Guatemala, a girl, but were told a few weeks later that adoption wasn't going to happen and the foundation was closing. They told investigators they did not receive a refund or the records they needed. The Boulder Police Department release goes on to say the family contacted the orphanage in Guatemala directly and were told the check to cover costs and fees of their first adoption was returned for insufficient funds, so the orphanage would not help them with their second adoption.  

Boulder police said as they were investigating the Singhs' case, another woman came forward with a similar story. Ms. Kuzdek (first name withheld to protect her identity) told police she paid the Claar Foundation about $19,000 to adopt a child from Guatemala. After months of waiting, she did not receive a referral for a child and asked for her money back. She told police she even went to arbitration in November 2007 and was awarded a full refund, but has not received any money. 

 At the trial, Novak’s defense attorney did not call any witnesses and did not call on Novak to testify in her own defense.  

The jurors began deliberating Novak’s case Tuesday afternoon, they returned Wednesday morning.  

During closing arguments, prosecutors said Novak ran a “sham” company, while Novak's defense attorney said she is a victim of bitter couples who didn’t complete adoptions, according to the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper.

If convicted on all charges, Novak could be sentenced to more than 60 years in prison.


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