2007_07_leekin.jpgFlorida police believe that Judith Leekin adopted 11 foster children, many of them special needs children, while she lived in Queens, collecting millions as she neglected them. After discovering one 18-year-old at a supermarket, police found other children in Leekin's Port St. Lucie home: They were malnourished, had scars on their hands from being handcuffed, left without access to a bathroom and were never schooled.

The city's Administration for Children's Services is cooperating with Florida authorities and is trying to understand how Leekin was able to adopt so many children from four different agencies. Leekin allegedly used aliases and hid children during agency visits. ACS pays more in subsidies for special needs children; the NY Times reports "the [daily] subsidy for a child classified as 'normal' is $22.59; for a child labeled 'special' it is $36.33; and for a child designated as 'exceptional' it is $55.07." It's unclear how Leekin's adopted children fit the categories, but right now, Florida authorities suspect she's taken at least $1.2 million over the past three decades. The Port St. Lucie police say, "We know she received an awful lot of money, and the figure is still rising."

Leekin, held on $4 million bail, is charged with child abuse and abuse of a disabled person. This case is reminiscent of the horrifying Collingwood, NJ incident, where police discovered a 19-year-old man who weighed 45 pounds rooting through a neighbor's garbage; he was among four children adopted and ignored by a couple.