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Baby scam suspect arrested in Ohio

| Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 12:02 a.m.
Amy Slanina

A woman who allegedly attempted an adoption scam while living in Kittanning was apprehended last week in Ohio after eluding authorities in two states.

Amy Slanina, 33, was reportedly mired in a similar scam when an investigation revealed her actual identity and previous offenses.

According to the Ashland Times-Gazette, Slanina was taken into custody at a home in Ashland, Ohio, and is being held in the county jail for a probation violation while local officials consider further charges.

Slanina, who had been on the lam for more than two months, has an extensive criminal history of lying about her identity and pretending to be pregnant and abused in an effort to defraud victims of money and services.

She already was wanted in Knox County, Ohio, for a parole violation stemming from a 2010 scam when she used a false name last December to gain shelter at Helping All Victims In Need (HAVIN) in Kittanning.

Claiming to be the battered wife of a Pittsburgh police officer, Slanina used a cell phone and computer at the facility to communicate with Richard and Rebecca Vest — a couple from Idaho who believed Slanina was pregnant and willing to let them adopt her baby.

Authorities at HAVIN became suspicious of Slanina's story, and Kittanning police arrested the woman on Dec. 30 for diversion of services, theft by deception and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Although Slanina had convinced the Vests to travel to Kittanning, District Judge James Owen dismissed two counts of disorderly conduct the following month because there was no proof she had asked the couple for money or put them in danger.

In April, Slanina appeared before Judge James Panchik which was to result in her extradition to Ohio.

However, Armstrong authorities were unable to locate her in September when she was again set to stand trial in Armstrong County for theft of services against HAVIN.

The Associated Press reported that a court summons mailed to the Ohio Reformatory for Women — where Slanina was thought to be incarcerated — was returned to sender with the word “Released” written on it.

Armstrong County District Attorney Scott Andreassi could not be reached on Tuesday for comment on the recent arrest, nor on how Slanina was able to disappear from authorities.

She surfaced last month at a shelter in Ashland in the midst of a similar scam. Slanina reportedly had told staff there she was again pregnant and had been abused by a police officer in Columbus.

Story unravels

She was attempting to file a PFA order against the man when authorities soon discovered he doesn't exist and Slanina's story unraveled. She was arrested at a home in Green Township on Nov. 30.

Jo Ellen Bowman, executive director of HAVIN, said she's relieved Slanina is finally behind bars.

“I was advised she was once again engaged in her false pregnancies and adoption scam,” said Bowman.

“It's unconscionable that she continues to inflict emotional pain on victims who believe she is pregnant and that they believe they will have the privilege of adopting her nonexistent child. I'm grateful to law enforcement for working so diligently to hold Amy Slanina accountable.”

Bowman said Slanina will eventually be returned to Armstrong County to face charges.

Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or tkaran@tribweb.com.

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