Imagine Adoption owners charged

Date: 2011-04-09


The owners of an Ontario-based international adoption agency with clients in Alberta have been charged with fraud.

Waterloo Regional Police announced Thursday that Rick Hayhow, 46, and Susan Hayhow, 45 of Imagine Adoption Inc. are jointly charged with breach of trust, six counts of fraud over $5,000 and three counts of fraud under $5,000. They have also been charged separately with one count each of fraud over $5,000.

In a statement, police allege the pair inappropriately spent more than $420,000 of agency funds on personal expenses such as trips, clothes and renovations to their home in Cambridge, west of Toronto.

The agency entered bankruptcy proceedings in July 2009, placing a number of pending adoptions from countries such as Ethiopia in doubt.

Police said they launched their investigation following complaints from the public about the agency.

"It was a lengthy investigation," said Insp. Greg Lamport of the Waterloo Regional Police. "They had to go through numerous interviews with clients and examine a large volume of documents."

Since 2009, a court-ordered trustee has overseen a restructuring of Imagine, with a new board of directors.

In February, Imagine Adoption signed a partnership agreement with Mission of Tears, a Toronto-based agency, which has assumed management of Imagine's operations in Ontario and the rest of Canada.

The police investigation was concerned strictly with alleged misappropriation of money from the agency, though Lamport acknowledged Imagine's troubles must have been a burden to families in the middle of adoptions.

"Does it have a ripple effect? Yes," he said.

Investigators arrested Rick Hayhow in Cambridge on Thursday. Police took Susan Hayhow into custody the same day in Whitby.

The Hayhows were released from custody pending a court appearance in Cambridge on May 26.


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