Two Sentenced To Year in Baby Black Market
November 1, 1950
Convicted of illegally placing babies with foster parents and accepting pay for the service, Irwin Slater, lawyer, was sentenced in General Sessions yesterday to a year's imprisonment, and fined $1,500, and Mrs. Bess Bernard, a widow, was sentenced to serve a year and was fined $2,500.
Slater, thirty-eight, lives at 13 Seventeenth Street, Brooklyn. Mrs. Bernard, forty-four, lives at 925 West End Avenue.
Judge Francis L. Valente described the acts of the defendants as "a nauseating and revolting practice of trading in human flesh."
Woman May Avoid Prison
He told Mrs. Bernard, howeer, that if she paid her fines byNov. 17 he would suspend execution of the prison term in her case, saying in part: "I am satisfied that in the end you were motivated by con???tions of ego satisfaction and a strong desire for social ??? and acceptance, which ????? your activities. Your urge to be accepted as a benefactress was so strong that I believe it helped to blunt your ethical discrimination and moral concepts." Judge Valente noted nevertheless that "it is evident that you were not at all averse to accepting and sharing in the profits realized in the placement of a child."
Slater was sentenced to serve a year on each of four counts - three of illegal placement and one of accepting compensation - with the terms to run concurrently. He was fined $500 on each of three counts and told that if he did not pay the fines he would have to serve two years instead of one. He was given until Nov. 17 to pay his fines and begin the jail sentence. He said he would appeal. Slater's motion for dismissal of four other counts on which he had been convicted was granted.
Appeals For Leniency
Mrs. Bernard was sentence to serve a year, concurrently on each of five counts - three of illegal placement and two of receiving compensation. Both she and Slater, accused of operating a black market in babies, were convicted June 29. Harry Wolfson, thirty-seven, of 260 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn, a lawyer who shared an office with Slater, was tried with Slater and Mrs. Bernard and was acquitted.
In a plea for leniency Slater said he believed his acts were right, but the opinion of the court and the jury has been given and I must necessarily yield to the law." He said there was no question that "everthing possible was done in selecting the foster parents."
Judge Valente, who said Slater received from $700 to $2,000 for every child placement, declared that "this practice has become common in recent years and must be stopped."