Boulder police investigate defunct adoption agency
February 18, 2008
BOULDER, Colorado – Police are investigating the business practices of a Boulder-based international adoption agency that closed last week.
Police spokeswoman Sarah Huntley on Friday confirmed an investigation of allegations against the Claar Foundation. Details were not released.
The Camera newspaper reported in Sunday editions that records show the company, which specialized in finding homes for orphans living in foreign countries, has been sued several times over financial matters.
The foundation was started by former Erie Trustee Lisa Novak and her husband, Martin Claar. People who used the company’s services say they were swindled, but Novak said she has done nothing wrong.
“We stopped taking clients months before we closed, and then we offered all clients the ability to transfer to another agency so their adoptions wouldn’t be stopped,” Novak said. “I think the closing of a business as emotional as adoptions causes an extreme emotional reaction.
“It’s a scary process, and when something big and scary happens in the middle of it like that, the worst in people comes out.”
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In May 2005, Novak’s brother Joseph Novak sued the couple over accusations that they transferred assets among multiple companies to escape liability for more than $216,000 of borrowed money. The suit also alleged the couple put $8,400 in charges on credit cards taken out under his name without his knowledge.
The lawsuit was dismissed in November 2005, after a confidential settlement. Joseph Novak declined to be interviewed. Lisa Novak said the suit was settled in her favor but that she could not discuss details.
Records at the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office show Novak and Claar had registered a number of businesses, including the Claar Foundation, all with the same address.
“No assets have ever transferred between any of the companies,” Lisa Novak said. She told the Camera some of the name changes were due to trade-name issues or for marketing reasons. Other names were reserved but never used, she said.
The Camera also reported that in the last four months, three parties have won judgments against the Claar Foundation or Novak for services that they said they paid for but never received.
In one case, Novak said she paid the settlement to avoid costs of fighting the claims. She said another family’s claims had “no validity.”
Information from: Daily Camera, http://www.thedailycamera.com