Child Custody Scandal in Los Angeles

In April of 1999, Insight Magazine blew the whistle on another child custody scam, after obtaining bank records of the Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Association documenting “a great deal of money moved to the LASCJA accounts… Not only were attorneys who argue cases before the family court making payments to the judges’ fund, but so were the court monitors — appointed by the judges and paid a professional fee of as much as $240 a day as observers during child visitations… the LASCJA was using the federal employer-identification number, or EIN, of Los Angeles County, which in turn covered the fact that the judges were not paying taxes on the outside income they moved through their association.”

But according to Insight, Los Angeles District Attorney Gil Garcetti halted an investigation of the judges association and ordered an investigator to shred documents he had collected. Garcetti has himself become the subject of a related lawsuit. According to Insight, Garcetti operates two private corporations from his government offices, and collects child support which he then withholds from the intended recipients:

…currently 14,000 families are owed nearly $25 million that Garcetti has collected but refused to pay.

With information generated by Insight’s investigation into the family-court system, a lawsuit was filed by taxpayers’ advocate Fine on Feb. 19 on behalf of John R. Silva of Sylmar, Calif., an aggrieved parent.

The Silva lawsuit seeks to require Garcetti immediately to distribute the millions in child-support payments he has been holding. Bryer is hopeful that the lawsuit will provide an opening for investigation of the whole child-custody system. “The mishandling of the child-support payments,” says Bryer, “is just one more outgrowth of a broken system that begins with the family court. It’s time for the unholy financial relationship between the judges and other court professionals to end, and the lawsuit filed against Garcetti is as good a place as any to start.”