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COUPLE PLEAD GUILTY TO ENDANGERING CHILDREN FROM PHILADELPHIA

 COUPLE PLEAD GUILTY TO ENDANGERING CHILDREN FROM PHILADELPHIA
 HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- A former Luzerne County couple who operated a child foster care agency today pleaded guilty to criminal charges, including endangering the welfare of Philadelphia children by placing them in dangerous and squalid conditions in foster homes in northeastern Pennsylvania.
 The pleas were entered by Robert T. Sweeney, 50, and his wife, Tina Brush Sweeney, 35, following selection of a Luzerne County Common Pleas Court jury which was to try them on charges filed in November 1990 by Attorney General Ernie Preate Jr.'s Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
 "This case reflects my office's determination to crack down on those who would abuse dependent people, including children, the elderly and the mentally disabled," Preate said.
 Robert Sweeney, a former staff psychologist at Clarks Summit State Hospital in Lackawanna County, pleaded guilty to one count of endangering the welfare of children, one count of theft by deception, one count of criminal conspiracy to commit theft by unlawful taking and two counts of forgery.
 He also pleaded no contest to a separate count of theft by deception.
 Luzerne County Judge Bernard C. Brominski scheduled sentencing of Robert Sweeney for Jan. 21, at 10:30 a.m. Preate said his office will ask the court to impose a prison term.
 Tina Sweeney pleaded guilty to one count each of endangering the welfare of children and theft by unlawful taking. Judge Brominski placed her on two years' probation and ordered her to pay $5,000 restitution, a $4,000 fine and costs of prosecution.
 The Sweeneys operated Alternatives for Children Inc., a non-profit child foster care agency, from their former home in Mountain Top until the state shut it down in September 1989. The Sweeneys now live in Gainesville, Fla.
 Preate's office charged that the Sweeneys endangered the welfare of dozens of children from Philadelphia whom they placed in foster homes in northeastern Pennsylvania.
 "Our investigation determined, for example, that in one case the defendants placed 11 infants and small children in a dilapidated building where the children were found living with adults in filthy and unsafe conditions," Preate said. "The children were poorly clothed, poorly groomed, poorly fed and suffered from poor hygiene."
 Preate's office also charged the Sweeneys with theft for violating their contract with the City of Philadelphia to place Philadelphia children in foster homes.
 The Attorney General said the charges stemmed from a probe conducted by his office with the assistance of a statewide investigating grand jury.
 Deputy Attorney General Ronald W. Costen is serving as prosecutor.
 /delval/
 -0- 12/11/91
 /CONTACT: Jack J. Lewis of the Office of Attorney General, 717-787-5211, or at home, 717-657-9840/ CO: Office of Attorney General ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


JS -- PH034 -- 1589 12/11/91 16:00 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 11, 1991
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