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Didn't look like kid-rob fiends


Wednesday, July 16th 2008, 11:01 PM

The three came into Manhattan Federal Court charged with robbing the city's neediest and most vulnerable children, but even the most heartless and despicable greed does not always leave a discernible mark.

Stay Thompson, Philbert Gorrick and Nigel Osarenkhoe looked alarmingly human in their woeful self-pity as they took seats at the defendant's table in the fifth-floor courtroom Wednesday.

There was no cruel curl in the mouth, no coldness in the eyes, nothing to tell you these three are charged with the monstrous crime of looting a fortune from the city Administration for Children's Services.

Thompson and Gorrick are affiliated with a private family services agency, and on Tuesday night they were arrested after allegedly taking a check for $711,420.25 fraudulently extracted from ACS. They allegedly used a similar scheme two years ago to steal $375,000 from ACS. Gorrick is said to have used his cut to buy an $84,000 black BMW.

Thompson is also alleged to have joined Osarenkhoe in bilking ACS for fictitious adoption subsidies. Court papers note that such funds are meant for kids "whose age, background or physical or mental disability make it more difficult to find an adoptive placement."

Osarenkhoe was arrested Wednesday morning at his office in the payments department at ACS, where he earns $70,685 a year. His lawyer noted in court that his client has a sideline, one which makes the accusations doubly disturbing.

"Mr. Osarenkhoe, he is a pastor," the attorney said.

Present at the time of all the arrests but absent from court was a fourth alleged conspirator, Lethem Duncan. He served as the $95,163-a-year deputy director of payment services at ACS. He is cooperating with the authorities.

"In the hopes of obtaining a reduction in his sentence," court papers note.

Let us hope that turning rat will not allow Duncan to escape the fullest measure of justice. He is apparently at the center of the schemes and should he be found guilty, he deserves every second of the 75-year maximum.

To be convicted of this crime is to be convicted of robbing excruciatingly vulnerable children as well as betraying those honest and heroic souls at ACS who struggle day in and day out against the most daunting odds.

All of which made the defendants' apparent normalcy in court so unsettling. Thompson shook her head and made a face like someone wrongly accused when the prosecutor spoke of her laundering $31,275.16 of supposed adoptive subsidies in a bank account.

Osarenkhoe raised his hand to his face when his lawyer quietly asked if he saw his wife slumped in the far back corner of the courtroom. His lawyer asked the judge for Osarenkhoe to be allowed to attend a national church convention in Minnesota over the weekend.

The judge inquired if Osarenkhoe had surrendered his passport. The lawyer said it was in the safe at his client's home, which was at that very moment being searched by investigators.

"If they're there when he gets home, he can give them the combination," the judge said.

The judge released the three on individual personal recognizance bonds of $250,000. An investigator presented each with a brown Manila envelope containing the personal property they had surrendered at the time of their arrest.

The pastor took out his belt, which he immediately looped. He then fished out his shoelaces. He sat down and calmly relaced his brown Oxfords while his wife stood in a cheerful orange top that only made her look more devastated.

His laces knotted, Osarenkhoe left the courthouse with Thompson and Gorrick, looking all the more alarmingly human.


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2008 Jul 16