Monday, August 27, 2007



Saturday, December 11, 2004

Children's supervisor shown sleeping on job
Gannett News Service

A videotape played in Dutchess County court Friday showed a court-appointed supervisor apparently sleeping while she was supposed to be overseeing a visit in Poughkeepsie between two children and their estranged mother. The tape, made by the children's mother, showed Viola Stroud of Mahopac sitting motionless on a couch, her eyes closed and her face tilted forward, as the children played a noisy game of air hockey several feet away. Later, Stroud is seen telling the mother to ''shut that off'' and hiding her face behind a handful of papers. She also demanded that the woman, Yevgenia Shockome, turn over the camera and the tape, and threatened to ''call the authorities.'' ''You're breaking the rules. Please don't take my picture,'' Stroud said. Stroud runs an organization called Little Angels Supervised Visitation, which provides court-ordered oversight of children and non-custodial parents accused of domestic violence, drug abuse or other problems. The private agency has received appointments in Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties. Checks written to self Stroud has also served as a court-appointed guardian for mentally incapacitated adults and, in September, published reports said she wrote tens of thousands of dollars in checks to herself, to ''cash'' and to Little Angels after she was given control over the finances of three Putnam women. Last month, the Putnam district attorney confirmed a criminal investigation of Stroud after a state judge ordered her to repay more than $30,000 to a Mahopac woman who suffered blindness and brain damage after a car crash. Stroud, 61, was not present in the courtroom Friday and did not return a telephone message left at her home. Her lawyer, Ronald Levine of Poughkeepsie, was not in his office late yesterday afternoon and did not return a message left with a receptionist. Shockome, who is involved in a bitter, four-year divorce case, said she made the tape at her Poughkeepsie condominium on Aug. 28. Shockome, 32, said her visitation rights were canceled afterward. Shockome said Stroud routinely slept during more than 20 previous supervised visits between Shockome and her children, whose father has sole custody. ''I liked it, because when she was sleeping I had more private time with my kids,'' Shockome said. At an Aug. 31 court hearing, Stroud denied sleeping during any of the visits, Shockome said. Dutchess County Family Court Judge Damian J. Amodeo, who appointed Stroud to Shockome's case and presided over Friday's hearing, did not comment on the content of the hourlong tape