MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) - A former foster father acquitted of charges he sexually abused six boys returned home after 16 months in jail to find his boarded-up house looted of nearly everything he owned and is now thinking of selling his story to make ends meet, according to his lawyer.
“Literally everything was removed from his house,” said Donald Mates, an attorney for Cesar Gonzales-Mugaburu. The house, located in a quiet neighborhood of landscaped lawns in Ridge, on eastern Long Island, appeared to be in disrepair, with a lawn of overgrown grass and shrubbery.
The list of missing items included “personal property, furniture, cash, cars, copper piping, appliances, clothes,” the lawyer said.
Gonzales-Mugaburu, 60, was acquitted Tuesday of sex abuse and other charges. His attorney argued that the former foster children had lied about the abuse.
Prosecutors contended that the crimes occurred between 1996 and 2016. The children had mental, intellectual, emotional and behavioral issues. The jury foreman said there were too many holes in the prosecution’s case to convict him.
Some of the foster children in his care have lawsuits pending against an agency that placed children in his home. Gonzales-Mugaburu was a foster father to more than 100 boys over two decades, authorities said.
If he had been convicted of the most serious charges, Gonzales-Mugaburu could have faced 25 years to life in prison.
Mates said Gonzales-Mugaburu had been offered a contract to develop a documentary concerning his story and was willing to do an interview - if he was paid.
“He’s looking to rebuild his life and since he has absolutely no money and is potentially going on social services, I’m looking get him a ‘few dollars,’ for him to give an exclusive interview for print media and still photographs,” Mates wrote in an email to The Associated Press.
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