Leekin to accept plea deal in Port St. Lucie child abuse case

Date: 2009-01-08
Source: tcpalm.com

Tyler Treadway

A Port St. Lucie woman accused of mistreating and neglecting 11 adopted children is scheduled to accept a plea deal Jan. 28, according to court records and a prosecutor on the case.

Judith Leekin, 63, was arrested in July 2007 and charged with 10 felonies (an 11th recently was added) alleging she abused and neglected children she adopted in New York City between July 1998 and April 1996 using fake names and aliases. She moved with the children to Port St. Lucie in 1998.

Port St. Lucie police have accused Leekin of forcing the children to sleep on the floor of a utility closet, binding them with plastic ties and handcuffs, beating them and keeping them away from school and medical care.

In July, a federal judge in New York City sentenced Leekin to 130 months in prison for defrauding the New York state adoption system out of $1.68 million. She also was ordered to pay back the money and forfeit her interest in her Florida homes in Port St. Lucie and Sanford.

Assistant State Attorney Jeff Hendriks, who is prosecuting Leekin on the St. Lucie County charges, said the plea deal is “still being tweaked” but will include a cap of 20 years in prison.

Asked whether that prison term would run consecutive to or concurrent with the New York sentence, Hendriks said, “That’s part of what’s still being tweaked.”

Leekin rejected an earlier plea deal that would have led to about 20 years in prison.

Leekin’s change-of-plea hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Jan. 28 before Circuit Judge Robert Belanger.

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