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    DCF says it never knew Rilya caretaker's aliases

    But the agency had access to a list of Geralyn Graham's fake names before sending the child to live with her.

    ©Associated Press
    May 15, 2002

    MIAMI -- Florida's child-welfare agency has said it didn't know Rilya Wilson's caretaker used numerous aliases before the 5-year-old girl was placed in her home. The youngster has been missing for 16 months.

    But Geralyn Graham's bogus names were contained in a court subpoena served on the Department of Children and Families records as part of a personal-injury lawsuit involving Graham, according to court records reviewed by the Associated Press.

    The department responded in October 1999 that it had no case files on Graham. Six months after it responded to the subpoena, the agency sent Rilya to live with the Graham sisters in April 2000.

    Agency officials apparently made no connection between the subpoena and the effort by Graham and her sister, Pamela Graham, to gain custody of Rilya.

    Geralyn Graham said Rilya was taken from her suburban Miami home in January 2001 by a DCF worker for an evaluation and the girl went unnoticed for 15 months. The department reported her missing April 25.

    Until the agency was told Tuesday about the subpoena and response, it had been saying it was unaware of Graham's lawsuit against Alamo Rent-A-Car over a 1996 van accident. Alamo lawyers subpoenaed the agency as part of a wide-ranging investigation into Graham's background.

    DCF spokesman Miguel Milanes said Tuesday he could not comment on the court records. But he noted, "We've been asked time and time again whether we were aware of a lawsuit and our response has been no."

    The names of four DCF employees were listed in the court papers. Three are still listed as department employees, but none could be reached Tuesday at their phone listings in a state directory.

    Graham's lawyers in her Alamo suit, filed in Miami, said she had dementia and other psychological problems requiring round-the-clock care. Alamo lawyers portrayed Graham as a scam artist.

    Lawyers for the Grahams in Rilya's disappearance say Geralyn Graham appears to them to suffer no dementia. Her sister, Pamela Graham, had legal custody of Rilya, and their lawyers say they both cared for her.

    Meanwhile, Miami-Dade County police are working with Bahamian authorities as the search expanded for the long-missing girl.

    Geralyn Graham listed the Bahamas as her birthplace in a 1982 arrest for grand theft in Coral Gables and said she has relatives there. Miami-Dade police would like to talk to any relatives she might have in the Bahamas.

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    From the Times state desk