Baby Farm's Offer: $2,000, Take Pick

By Leeds Moberly
June 20, 1950

A Brooklyn clothing firm executive testified in General Sessions yesterday that Mrs. Bess Bernard, 44, on trial with two lawyer co-defendants on charges of baby-selling, offered him his pick of two infants and put a price of $2,000 on the one he chose.

As in the case of the other witnesses who have been appearing before Judge Francis L. Valente and the jury, the clothing man's name was withheld. He said that at Mrs. Bernard's request he brought the money in cash to her office, and that when he found she was not in he left the packet on her desk.

Got No Certificate

Since that time, he continued, Mrs. Bernard had called him several times to ask about the youngster's physical condition, but she never produced the birth certificate and adoption papers he had asked for.

Mrs. Bernard, who lives at 925 West End Ave., is on trial with Irwin Slater, 38, of 13 70th St., Brooklyn, and his law associate, Harry Wolfson,37, of 260 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn. In the first Manhattan prosecution under the new state law governing placement of babies for adoption. The lawyers have offices at 67 W. 44th St., Manhattan.

Heard Young Voices

The clothing man said he and his wife got in touch with Mrs. Bernard through friends and that she had taken them first to an apartment on W. 190th St., where they first saw the baby they ultimately obtained. Then she allowed them to look at another baby in New Jersey, he added.

Under cross-examination by Mrs. Bernard's attorney, John McKim Minton, the witness said there was a woman in the W. 190th St. apartment but he did not know whether she was the baby's mother. He also said he hard other children's voices in other rooms of the flat.

Four witnesses last week told of giving their own babies to Slater for adoption for $300 or less - one, a 17-year-old unwed mother, said she got $100. The foster parents who have testified so far declared they paid from $1,650 to $2,000.

Told of Paying $1,800

A New York corporation executive declared on the stand yesterday that he and his wife, childless after nine years of marriage and unable to get a baby through a legitimate agency, paid Slater $1,800 for one. He said he and Slater flew to Miami, where the baby was turned over to him in a doctor's office.

Two New Jersey women who operate nursing homes testified that they had cared for babies for the defendants. One said she had taken care of three for Mrs. Bernard - one of whom she went to Florida to get. Mrs. Bernard, she said, followed her south on the next plane and they went together to a nursing home in Miami Beach and picked up an infant that Mrs. Bernard delicately referred to as her "niece."

The witness added that she then flew home with the baby and a few days later a man and woman called for it.


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