Couple charged with stealing foster child's money


ANCHORAGE, Alaska - An Alaska couple have been indicted by a grand jury on charges that they stole more than $800,000 that belonged to their adopted son.

Edward Drones, 61, and Lori Wiley-Drones, 57, were arrested Wednesday, the Anchorage Daily News reported ( http://is.gd/ahfbi6).

Prosecutors say $824,000 was awarded to the boy after the couple sued the state, claiming that their foster son had been born to a drug- and alcohol-addicted mother and was allowed to live with his abusive and neglectful father.

According to the indictment, the couple eventually adopted the boy and drained his account, leaving just $15.

The grand jury indicted the couple on two dozen counts of felony wire fraud, the U.S. attorney's office said. The Droneses were in jail Friday and court documents did not indicate that either one had arranged for a lawyer yet.

According to the indictment, the state of Alaska gave the Droneses custody of the boy as a foster child in 1996, when he was 5 or 6 years old. The Droneses formally adopted him in 2001.

The couple sued the state for "failure to protect" the boy in 2005.

The state agreed to pay about $824,000 just before the boy turned 18. The indictment says it was then that the Droneses moved to have a conservator appointed to control the boy's money.

A year after the settlement, Wiley-Drones told the court-appointed conservator that the teenager had decided to buy a house. The conservator objected to that idea, as well as to a subsequent request by the adoptive parents to be paid more than $1,600 a month for the boy's care, the indictment says.

The couple got the conservator removed and took control of the boy's finances, including a bank card they used to drain his accounts, the indictment says.

The U.S. attorney's office says the adoptive parents went on to buy a $220,000 home in Washington state, spent $49,000 on vehicles for themselves when the boy did not have a driver's license, and dropped more than $25,000 on expensive jewelry for the adoptive mother, among other items.

They also made about $124,000 in online payments for bills on credit cards that were not in the boy's name, the U.S. attorney's office said.

Federal prosecutors are seeking forfeiture of the Washington home, a mobile home in Anchorage and more than two dozen items of women's fine jewelry, according to the indictment. The prosecutors also say they will seek as much as $775,000 in cash.