Officers raid Napa adoption agency
By CHRIS TRIBBEY and DAVID RYAN, Register Staff Writers
Napa police served a search warrant on a Napa-based adoption agency Wednesday morning, seizing computer hard drives and boxes of files.
The morning raid at 1612 Jefferson Street was a result of a month-long investigation into Yunona USA, an organization that connects Americans who want to adopt children, with orphans in other countries.
Police entered the facility at 10 a.m. and left by 1 p.m., according to neighbors. No employees were present when police served the warrant, and the complex landlord let them in, according to former Yunona Vice President Nick Sims, 66.
Napa Police Sgt. Tim Cantillon said the warrant came about after a client of Yunona accused the agency of taking money and not following through on an adoption. "The client alleged that Yunona had accepted money to perform a service, and (the search) is to see if there are any more like this," Cantillon said.
Cantillon added that no arrest warrants have been issued, however police are attempting to interview the founder and president of Yunona, 42-year-old Ivan Jerdev.
Jerdev has a home on Legacy Court in Napa, however Sims said Jerdev is in his native Russia, and cannot be reached.
Sims, who is now a consultant for the agency, said the client who came to police is a Florida woman who attempted to adopt a Guatemalan child through Yunona. He claims that the person in Guatemala the agency employed stole more than $71,000, including the client's money.
"I looked into it very carefully, and I informed her that the company did owe her the money in full," Sims said. "It wasn't a question of whether we owed her. We just couldn't pay." He said the agency owes the client more than $10,000.
Yunona, founded in 1994, charges a $200 application fee to cover administrative costs, however once a child and prospective parents are matched, the adoption charges can run upwards of $20,000-$30,000.
Over the summer, Yunona began a new program, posting ultrasound images of unborn children in Guatemala. The agency has offices there, and in the Ukraine, Russia, Vietnam, Kazakhstan and several in the United States.
Sims said that the agency is in no danger of shutting down, "but we're going to have to close our doors for now ... we just can't take any more clients."
Jerdev is no stranger to run-ins with police.
In 2000, he pleaded guilty to assaulting a woman. His father, Anatoliy Jerdev, pleaded guilty to sexual battery. According to the Sept. 17, 2000 arrest report, the victim claimed Ivan Jerdev slapped her while she was trying to flee his father. An arrest report for his father said the victim claimed Anatoliy grabbed her breasts, punched her and scratched her neck.
Anatoliy fled to Russia 10 days after his arrest. Charges against Ivan Jerdev were dropped after he completed a diversion program for anger management. Records show Ivan Jerdev paid $100 in restitution.
While police case files are still open for Anatoliy, Sims claims Ivan Jerdev's father is dead.
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