New York City officials have agreed to set aside $6 million for a Staten Island boy who vanished nearly nine years ago after being ripped from his family and placed into foster care.

The settlement, which was reached after a lengthy court battle involving a lawsuit brought by Patrick Alford’s family, will be used to benefit the little boy, who was just 7 years old when he disappeared from a Brooklyn foster home in January 2010, the Staten Island Advance reported.

Patrick Alford
A portion of the $6 million settlement will be used to help locate Patrick Alford, who disappeared while taking out the trash in 2010. (Image courtesy of DCPI)

Court documents allege foster-care agency St. Vincent’s Services and City Administration for Children’s Services workers thrust Alford and a younger sister into foster homes instead of leaving them in the “safe and loving care” of their aunt, Blanca Toledo. The siblings were allegedly taken from Toledo without a court order and placed with a foster family in Brooklyn.

Jennifer Rodriguez, the children’s mother, lost custody of Patrick and his two sisters in December 2009 after authorities arrested her on theft charges, the newspaper reported.

The city refused to let other relatives take the children, then made “false and misleading statements” to a Staten Island family court judge about the case, according to court documents. Moreover, it claimed the foster care agency ignored Alford’s special needs, causing him to spiral into despair.

The boy’s family said he only spoke English, yet was consistently placed in Spanish-speaking households. He made repeated attempts to escape his foster family and suffered violent outbursts, as well as suicidal thoughts, court papers said.

Alford’s foster mother, Librada Moran, said the 7-year-old disappeared while taking out the trash around 9 p.m. on Jan. 22, 2010. He hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

Nine months after her son vanished, Rodriguez sued the city, Moran, the foster care agency and others in Brooklyn federal court, accusing them of negligence.

“We have no information that would dissuade us from searching for him,” said Jonathan Lerner, a pro bono attorney hired to represent the boy’s legal interests. “We got involved with the case to seek justice for the child.”

For now, Lerner said the funds from the settlement will be held in a trust for Patrick and monitored by a corporate trustee. A portion of the money will also be used to help find the now-teenager.

“We had hoped during the pendency of the action, he would be located,” he added. “That, so far, has not occurred. We have allocated for the trustee a portion of the funds to try to locate and secure his safe return. That’s what we are hoping for.”

The city said the settlement was “in the best interest of all the parties.”


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