This report is part 9 of an investigative series looking into reported corruption in the Missouri Judiciary and family courts. For the rest of the investigation visit the catalog here.
St. Louis television station KMOV Channel 4 waded into the deep waters of the family court corruption by reporting part of the developing story in the Missouri family court system. They sat down with only two of the growing number of alleged victims of a money-making scheme that PJ Media reported when Evita Tolu filed a lawsuit naming the players in the family court system she says took her for everything she had—while alienating her children from her and sentencing them to life with an abuser. KMOV reported part of that story:
Most of the criticism the commenters here at PJ Media and some on the KMOV post have had is that the stories of those affected seem to only be women. That’s about to change. Many men have come forward but have been afraid to speak out. PJ Media has been receiving their emails since the story first broke and investigators have been putting together links between the cases. On Monday afternoon, several of the fathers who say they were bled dry by the Missouri family court system came forward on a live stream to tell me their side of the story. The full two-hour event can be found here. But in the interest of breaking it down into a more digestible segment, I’ve edited the most important parts of the video for you below.
Most of the fathers only wanted to use their first names and no images because they are currently still in the system and believe that speaking out about the corruption they’ve faced will bring retaliation from the judges and guardians ad litem who wield an immense amount of power. One of the whistleblowers is currently sitting in jail on a $75,000 cash-only bond for what she believes is retaliation for talking to the press.
“In essence, you have a cabal of folks who are working together on a number of cases that essentially grab your financial records so they have an idea of how much they can get paid,” said Mark. “And after millions of dollars in expert fees and legal fees, it leaves parents completely broke.” He continued, “A system that is essentially intended to take care of children puts children in a terrible financial circumstance.”
Kenneth Rosa of The Father’s Rights Movement with 700,000 followers joined the stream as well because his guardian ad litem (GAL) was Elaine Pudlowski, the same GAL named in Tolu’s lawsuit. Rosa saw many similarities in his case and the cases of the victims contacting The Father’s Rights Movement every day.
“They’re doing this to everybody,” he said. “Out of the 700,000 people we have following us, they all have the same story. The GAL took a bunch of money, they appointed a bunch of court actors who got a bunch of money, and they’re all working and colluding against them to keep fathers, and now it’s mothers [in court].”
Rosa says that the child support system is a well-known money-making scheme. “It’s really about the fact that these courts are making billions of dollars off of child support, which is a federal incentive program.”
A father going by the name “Steve” called in to talk about his experience with GAL Sarah Pleban, who was featured on a leaked zoom call colluding with other GALs and attorneys to fight Tolu’s case against Pudlowski. “My case involved Sarah Pleban as the GAL. Dr. Reid was the psych evaluator in my case as well,” he said. Dr. James Reid is another named defendant in the lawsuit filed by Tolu that alleges he falsified her test results to diagnose her with borderline personality disorder. Other women have come forward with the same story as featured on KMOV and in PJ Media’s reporting.
Steve’s own lawyer told him to hire Pleban and a psych evaluator to “try to expose” his ex-wife’s behavior. He believed, on the advice of counsel, that hiring these people would help him. “I followed my attorney’s advice,” said Steve. “That got out of control pretty quickly.”
The bills started pouring in. “It started at $5000 just to get that report done.” The first evaluation came up positive for Steve but he says Pleban didn’t want that result and asked the judge to order another one. “I was told right up front that [Pleban] always makes a decision very early on about who is the good parent and who is the bad parent and for whatever reason, she decided I was the bad parent.”
Steve continued, “[Pleban] forced the court to order a new evaluation to be done. It became very clear to us that the evaluator and the GAL were working closely together. There was a narrative here. There was a result they were trying to get to and whatever the facts were they were going to use them to support the conclusions that they had already come to.”
Suddenly, Steve found himself being accused of parental alienation. “Under the theory of parental alienation, somehow I was this master puppeteer that was controlling everybody and therefore…I shouldn’t be around the kids and they needed to be with their mother to prevent this from happening any further.”
For the pleasure of being diagnosed as an alienator, Steve was ordered to pay Pleban $60,000 and Reid $30,000. That didn’t include his attorney’s fees. “The grand total of the case ended up being about $300,000.” After all that, Steve was declared a “fit and willing parent” and the court did not give any weight to the false allegations that were made. “No family, no parent should have to lose everything—I lost everything, the house, the cars, money from my parents—just to prove that I was a fit and willing parent…I was assumed to be guilty for two-and-a-half years.”
Steve says his children have nothing left and he has no ability to send them to college after the family court system got through pillaging his wealth.
Brad Fercho, former CEO of Mallinckrodt, Inc, was almost a victim of the alleged scheme but he outsmarted Pleban right from the beginning. His experience with depositions and court cases and his considerable resources helped him navigate the family court system successfully.
“The first time I met with Sarah Pleban I could tell that she just didn’t care,” said Fercho. “She didn’t really have any interest in my side of the story. Then they assigned us to this nutjob psychologist who, it was clear that in my opinion, she was in cahoots with my ex-wife and the family court.”
After meeting with Pleban for the first time, where Fercho says she refused to hear his evidence, he scheduled another meeting with her but surprised her with his attorney accompanying him to that meeting. This, Fercho says, gave him the leverage he needed to outsmart her. “I said, ‘What we’re going to do is something that you have not afforded me the opportunity of and that’s to tell you my side of the case.'” Fercho then made her sit through two binders full of evidence he had collected refuting every allegation against him, with his attorney as a witness.
After that meeting, Fercho says Pleban knew she wasn’t going to pull anything over on him. “She got me for $10,000,” said Fercho, but he doesn’t consider himself a victim because when his ex-wife settled and gave him custody of their oldest son, she also had to pay Pleban’s fees, along with some of Fercho’s attorney’s fees. “It’s so corrupt when you have 39 or whatever judges recuse themselves, when you have all the guardians ad litem in cahoots with the family practice attorneys, this is so deep and corrupt. I don’t know what can be done to fix it.”
Fercho says he came forward not for himself but for the victims who didn’t win and who were financially devastated. “My goal now is to do whatever I can to make sure we get these people disbarred…we need to get financial restitution for the people who have really suffered. I don’t consider that I’ve suffered financially. I’m here because I know how smelly it is,” he said.
“They traffic children at the expense of getting paid exorbitant amounts of money and that to me is about as bad as it gets,” said Fercho.
There are other fathers on the live stream with similar stories and you can hear the highlights of their interviews in the video below.
If you or someone you know is a victim of the St. Louis County or Missouri family court system, please contact [email protected] to be a part of this ongoing investigation.
Missouri Lawyer: Collusion in Family Courts to Cover Up Child Sexual Abuse Is Rampant: ‘These Attorneys Need to Be Disbarred’