Utah Adoption Agency Stole Funds from Hopeful Families

The owner of a Utah adoption agency out of American fork has been arrested after he stole funds from hopeful families looking to adopt.

Adoption fees

Photo by: Bridget Coila

Photo by: Bridget Coila

James Charles Webb was arrested earlier this month after four families eager to adopt newborns claimed he stole funds from by accepting over $100,000 and promised them he would help them adopt babies. Webb, the owner of Adoption Center of Choice in American Fork Utah, accepted the hefty payments from the families; however he was operating on a revoked business license. Webb’s business license was put on suspension, and later revoked while he was instructed to not obtain any new clients.

Theft by deception

Disregarding instructions to refrain from carrying out adoptions, Webb accepted the four families’ payments, promising them they would be holding their new babies soon. After many excuses as to why the adoptions were not happening, the families realized Webb didn’t have a business license anymore and told authorities he stole funds from them through deception. Theft by deception is defined by Utah Code 76-6-405 as when “A person commits theft if the person obtains or exercises control over property of another person: by deception; and with a purpose to deprive the other person of property.”

Stole funds or operated without a valid license?

Stole funds

Photo by: Miran Rijavec

Webb is facing four second degree felonies for theft by deception along with third degree felonies related to tax evasion. Before he is sentenced to years behind bars, it is important to know if he stole the funds and planned on deceiving the families or merely operated without a valid license. Was he actively trying to find newborns for the families to adopt or did he not make any attempts at all to find birth mothers willing to adopt? Did he have “a purpose to deprive” the families of money? Anyone who is facing criminal charges, whether or not there was criminal intent, are encouraged to seek counsel from a criminal defense attorney.

Copper Theft in Utah

Gold or silver jewelry are common items of theft in Utah, but so are pipes, cables, and wires made of copper.

From hobby to crime

Photo by: Sam-Cat

Photo by: Sam-Cat

Beyond the precious metals used for jewelry, other metals such as copper also have a high value. As people became aware of this, they began searching for copper to turn around and sell for profit. Rummaging through trash cans and salvage yards, stripping wires hoping to reveal copper wiring turned into a time consuming yet financially rewarding hobby for many people. Unfortunately, many individuals were so desperate for cash they began stripping wires that were still being used.

Supply and demand

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, repairs and replacements from copper theft costs the U.S. nearly a billion dollars a year. Copper theft has been an ongoing problem for over a decade, with the instances of copper theft rising and falling right along with the price of raw copper. The higher the price for copper, the more thefts tend to accompany. Although there was a definite decrease in instances of copper theft after the drop in copper prices in 2009, copper theft remains a problem today.

More than just theft

The FBI issued a report on copper thefts claiming “copper thieves are threatening US critical infrastructure by targeting electrical sub-stations, cellular towers, telephone land lines, railroads, water wells, construction sites, and vacant homes for lucrative profits. The theft of copper from these targets disrupts the flow of electricity, telecommunications, transportation, water supply, heating, and security and emergency services and presents a risk to both public safety and national security.” Utah is well aware of these infrastructure threats. Back in 2006, over 6 miles of copper was pulled from the ground going to light poles along I-15 in Salt Lake City. As the lights went out, so did half a million dollars of copper wiring.

Illegal and dangerous

Photo by:  Frédéric BISSON

Photo by:
Frédéric BISSON

Copper theft could land the thief with jail time from charges such as theft, burglary, criminal mischief. More serious to criminal charges is the threat to their life. Taking wires that are connected to electrical equipment is extremely dangerous, and if an electrical shock doesn’t kill the person touching the live wires, it will do some irreparable damage. The risk of criminal charges and injury isn’t worth the price of copper. Leave it connected.

Theft by Deception

Numerous individuals are skilled enough with their words to make others believe anything they say; however if they use this skill of trickery and lies to cheat another person, they could face charges of theft by deception.

Theft by deception

Photo by: David Goehring

Photo by: David Goehring

According to Utah Code 76-6-405 : “A person commits theft [by deception] if the person obtains or exercises control over the property of another person: by deception; and with a purpose to deprive the other person of the property.” Theft by deception only applies if the item has “pecuniary [monetary] significance.”

Semi honest ads

From a business’ point of view, theft by deception may appear legal seeing how the victim willingly hands over their money for an item or service. Most sales promotions, ads, and commercials made by businesses have exaggerated deals, which are usually excused as “puffing” or overstatements that wouldn’t fool the common Joe. However going overboard and outright lying about conditions or products may bring charges of theft by deception.

Taking advantage of gullible people

Theft by deception can be as simple as getting someone to believe that they have to give up an item or money. There are many people out there that will take another person on their word. Taking advantage of these overly trusting individuals and tricking them out of a belonging or funds is against the law. Utah Code 76-6-404 states, “A person commits theft if he obtains or exercises unauthorized control over the property of another with a purpose to deprive him thereof.” When someone is tricked out of an item or funds, the party who made a fool of the victim was intentionally trying to “deprive him”, and therefore by law- committed theft.

Resist deceiving others

Theft by deception can carry different fines and penalties. The charges depend on the item involved, the amount (or worth), and whether or not this is a subsequent offense. With all these factors to consider, theft by deception could range from a class B misdemeanor to a 2nd degree felony. Any persons facing charges of theft by deception are encouraged to speak with a criminal defense attorney immediately.