Baffi Promised to Use Her Government Position to Bring Couple’s Three Children to the U.S. from Peru
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced that a jury has convicted a former Nassau County employee of grand larceny after promising a Hempstead couple that she would use her position in county government to bypass immigration proceedings and bring the couple’s three Peruvian children to the United States, ultimately stealing more than $11,000 from the couple.
It took a jury less than three hours to convict Baffi, 43, of Floral Park, of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree. She faces up to two-and-a-third to seven years in prison at her Dec. 6 sentence date.
Rice said that in April 2006, Baffi told the common-law married couple, who came to the United States from Peru in 2001, that she had a government job in which she helped people with immigration issues and offered to help the couple bring their three children to the U.S. from Peru. Baffi, a case worker for the Nassau County Department of Social Services since 2000, had no authority to help with federal immigration issues.
Baffi knew the couple because the wife had periodically worked part-time cleaning Baffi’s house from 2002 to 2004. Baffi is also of Peruvian descent.
The couple share one common son, 10, and the father has a 15-year-old son and the wife has an 11-year-old son, both from prior relationships. All three children live in Lima, Peru.
Initially, Baffi suggested marrying the husband in exchange for $18,000, claiming that she would then use her parental status as a U.S. citizen to travel to Peru to retrieve the children. The couple rejected this idea as it would leave one of the children, from the wife’s previous marriage, behind in Peru. Baffi then suggested that, for the $18,000 plus traveling expenses, she would go to Peru representing herself as the children’s godmother and take the children with her to Disneyworld. Baffi convinced the couple that her government job would ensure the process would go smoothly.
Baffi set up a payment plan with the couple whereby they would pay her $3,000 upfront and $500 per month until they paid off the final $15,000. As a condition of this arrangement, the couple also had to move into Baffi’s basement and pay her an additional $500 per month in rent. The couple agreed to this arrangement and from July 2006 to July 2007 paid her a total of $11,500.
In July 2006, Baffi traveled to Peru at the couple’s expense and explained that she would need to spend time with the children on this trip before she could bring them back to New York on a subsequent trip. While staying with the wife’s family in Peru, Baffi insisted the family install hot water for her and act as tour guides at their expense. When Baffi returned to New York, she told the couple that she would return to Peru in December 2006 to get the children.
As December approached, however, Baffi changed the plan and stated that she would go to Peru to marry the wife’s brother in the hopes that she could then return with the children, who were living with the brother at the time. Baffi and her son traveled to Peru, but Baffi never filed any marriage paperwork, later telling the couple that she would file the required marriage paperwork in New York. She never did.
In July 2007, the couple moved out of Baffi’s house and terminated their relationship with her. On Aug. 4, 2007, Baffi agreed to pay the couple back the $11,500 she had taken from them. To date, she has only paid back $1,500.
The jury rejected the defense’s claims that all of the money Baffi received was rent payments, and that it was the victim’s idea to engage in criminality to get their children into the U.S.
“This woman thought she could exploit a hardworking couple’s desire to give their children a better life in order to fatten her own wallet,” said Rice. “She preyed on them because she believed they would not have the courage to come forward and turn her in, but she was wrong. In addition to jail time, my office will be seeking full restitution for the victims.”
Assistant District Attorney Daryl Levy of the County Court Trial Bureau is handling the case for the DA’s office. Baffi is represented by Fred Brewington, Esq.