- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 3, 2002

MIAMI (AP) Two women who took care of Rilya Wilson, the little girl whose disappearance exposed disarray in Florida's child welfare agency, were charged yesterday with stealing $14,000 in public assistance, in part by accepting payments for Rilya after she had vanished.
Geralyn and Pamela Graham, who claim to be sisters, were arrested along with Geralyn Graham's adult son and daughter.
They were not charged in the girl's disappearance.
"We think that the people we've arrested today are the people that most likely know the whereabouts of Rilya Wilson," said Doyle Jordan, a regional director for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. "We are operating under the assumption she's alive."
The Grahams stole $14,257 worth of food stamps and welfare by lying about family income and by accepting payments for Rilya after the girl had disappeared, authorities said.
Geralyn Graham, 56, was arrested as "Jane Doe" because she has more than 40 aliases and authorities said they are not sure of her real name. Authorities said they have no proof the Grahams are sisters.
Geralyn Graham's attorney, Ed Shohat, did not immediately return a call. Pamela Graham's attorney had no comment.
Rilya whose sixth birthday would have been last month lived with Geralyn Graham, who had claimed to be her paternal grandmother, and Pamela Graham, who had legal custody, from April 2000 until January 2001. Geralyn Graham said that in January 2001, a state child-welfare worker took Rilya away for evaluation, never to be seen again.
The girl was supposed to receive monthly state visits but was not reported missing until April 25 because of a bureaucratic blunder. The 15 months that elapsed before the girl's disappearance was noticed caused a scandal in Florida's Department of Children & Families.
The case resulted in the resignation of top child-welfare administrators, including the agency's secretary, Kathleen Kearney.
Geralyn Graham was charged with public-assistance fraud, forgery and other offenses and was held on $600,000 bail. Pamela Graham was charged with grand theft, welfare fraud and aiding and abetting public-assistance fraud.
Geralyn Graham's son, Leo Epson, was charged with grand theft and making a false statement, while her daughter, Jacqueline Epson, was charged with public-assistance fraud.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide