Adoption employees arrested

Date: 2011-04-11

Former officials at Imagine Adoption face fraud charges

by Lisa Rutledge

Two former employees of the Cambridge not-for-profit international adoption agency Imagine Adoption Inc., were arrested and charged Friday with breach of trust and fraud in connection with $420,000 in allegedly misused funds.

The agency’s former general manager Rick Hayhow, 46, was arrested in Cambridge and founder and former executive director Susan Hayhow, 45, was arrested in Whitby. Both have been charged with one count of breach of trust, six counts of fraud over $5,000, three counts of fraud under $5,000, as well as an additional and separate count of fraud over $5,000.

Both were released on a promise to appear in a Cambridge court on May 26.

Waterloo Regional Police Fraud Branch detectives, in partnership with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, began looking into complaints about inappropriate use of agency funds in July 2009. The business had declared bankruptcy, citing a $363,000 shortfall.

Investigators launched an extensive investigation, examining “a large volume of documents relating to financial transactions” and interviewing clients of the agency.

At the centre of the investigation is $420,000 in agency funds alleged to have been used for personal use, including vacations, clothing and renovations to a personal residence in Cambridge.

Hundreds of families across Canada were shocked when news of the agency’s financial issues, especially when many paid money upfront in hopes of helping secure adoption of children from orphanages in places like Ghana.

The Cambridge-based agency later got a second chance thanks to new leadership.

Creditors voted to revive the agency operated by Kids Link International Adoption Agency and families paid up to $6,000 each to help keep the agency running.

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