Scam counseling service for transgendered teens exposed

BY Advocate.com Editors

May 17 2003 12:00 AM ET

Three people awarded a Philadelphia city grant to counsel youths confused about their gender identity were indicted Thursday on charges that their company was a scam and never had a single client. A federal grand jury returned a 19-count indictment against Joseph L. Lewis Jr., Janis P. Moore, and Tyrone Smith, all of Philadelphia, charging them with mail fraud and other offenses. Prosecutors said that between 1998 and 2000, the three were paid at least $130,000 by the city to provide psychological counseling to transgendered adolescents through a company called New Mark Consultants, located in the heart of the city's gay community. During that time the company provided the city with invoices claiming it had worked with a number of teenage clients.

In reality, the indictment said, Lewis deposited funds for the program into his own bank account and used it to pay for personal expenses including lease and repair bills for two BMW automobiles, rent on his apartment, $10,000 in payments to family members, and stable and feed charges for his horse, Cody. The indictment said an investigation revealed that Moore, who told city officials that she had been a grant writer and an educator for the Federal Bureau of Prisons between 1990 and 1994, had actually been an inmate in the federal prison system during that time. The discrepancies were uncovered by the city's inspector general in 2000, officials said.

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