On Dec. 4, the Michigan Department of Attorney General announced that the couples — Joel and Tammy Brown along with Jerry and Tamal Flore — collectively face 36 charges related to the abuse of eight children “under the guise of discipline.”
The couples, who began adopting or fostering children in 2007, are both accused of manipulating the foster care system to secure over $1 million in tax-free funds from the state, WOOD-TV reported.
Attorney General Dana Nessel claimed to WOOD-TV that the suspects "easily manipulated" the system for financial gain.
Joel Brown, 54, a former public health department employee who worked for a children's advocacy agency, is accused of using his knowledge of child abuse laws to evade arrest, officials said. He faces five charges that include child abuse of the first and third degrees, interfering with a crime report, and failure to report child abuse.
Tammy Brown, 53, is charged with three counts: child abuse of the first and third degrees, and conspiracy to commit child abuse.
Jerry Flore, 58, faces a total of 11 charges, including child abuse in the presence of another child, two counts of second-degree child abuse, and seven counts of first-degree child abuse.
Tamal Flore, 56, faces 17 charges: child abuse in the presence of another child, five counts of third-degree child abuse, two counts of second-degree child abuse, and seven counts of first-degree child abuse.
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Nessel noted children in foster care and adoption systems "are often already coming from unbelievably vulnerable situations and deserve our utmost care."
Nessel alleged the Brown and Flore families “preyed upon dozens of children who were removed from previously abusive biological homes and subjected them to prolonged routine and systemic mental and physical abuse.”
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The couples were the subjects of a previous investigation that resulted in charges against the Browns being dismissed and charges against the Flores being reduced, WOOD-TV reported.
However, officials said, a renewed investigation this year involved photos, videos, medical evaluations of potential victims, and interviews with 10 of the adopted children. Detectives allegedly uncovered sufficient evidence for the new charges, and any remaining charges from the previous investigation now have been dropped, the officials added.
Arrest warrants were issued for all four defendants, who were expected to turn themselves in voluntarily by Dec. 8.
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