By Michael Volpe
Though there are court orders in place, a Connecticut mom says she’s illegally being kept away from her kids, and the CT Family Court is allowing her ex-husband to get away with it.
Cobie Jane told me that she has not been allowed by her ex-husband to see her kids since 2018, despite court orders for her to have plenty of custody time. Cobie told me she blames a cabal of court actors for her predicament, including the guardian ad litem Jill Plancher.
Plancher is an attorney with the Connecticut Legal Services; I reached out to her by email but got no response. Cobie says Plancher has been running interference, like excusing him when he doesn’t make the kids available.
One example of Cobie’s frustration comes from an email exchange between her and Plancher.
From: Cobie Jane
Date: October 22, 2020
To: Jill Plancher
Subject: Re: Boys
Judge Heller made it clear that kids need both parents and that Neal should not take the law in his own hands. You supported a plan for weekly dinners.
The child custody study warned against allowing Neal’s alienation to go unpunished. I legally have 50/50 custody (or full per the court-stamped parenting plan). But no one will help enforce it.
Sad that escaping Neal’s abuse meant losing my kids. Not sure who is worse off – Jennifer Dulos or me. In both cases, the kids lost a loving mother because of an abusive father.
I won’t apologize for trying to save us. I invested years and went into debt after losing everything in my effort to protect my children and myself. God knows I tried everything even if they don’t.
Jill Plancher is a GAL in CT. Plancher sent this in reply on October 22, 2020:
The boys are not willing to meet with you for dinner or in any other forum. They are very clear and articulated that they are doing very well and they don’t want to be distressed by your initiation of contact every six months or so. They ask that you respect their feelings and leave them alone. I have told them that I would communicate this to you. As hard as this is to hear, I don’t believe there is anything more that I can do to help facilitate contact with the boys. Harrison is soon 18. Chase is in high school and very much his own person. They don’t want to have a relationship with you and don’t want to hear from me either. What I would suggest, is that you write a letter to the boys. I would include it an apology for all the hurt. I would let them know your arms are always open to being a part of their lives, that you hope one day they will understand better that when you left their father, you never meant to leave them, and that you will always be grateful for the time you spent with them.
Cobie has had all sorts of court services- all of them failures- to try and fix this.
Back in 2016, the court ordered reunification therapy using Overcoming Barriers.
Overcoming Barriers offer this sort of therapy, claiming they can fix broken parent/child relationships.
When the Center for Investigative Reporting did a story about another reunification therapist, it was noteworthy that no data could be provided on success rates.
In this case, Overcoming Barriers did an intensive multi-day camp in 2016, but this camp failed to heal the relationship.
Overcoming Barriers is run by John Moran, a cohort of Randy Rand.
As such, Cobie reached out for some aftercare services; here is how Moran responded, “saddened to hear of the families’ (sic) continuing struggles, I will check with staff, but OCB does not offer further services after the family leaves camp other than to consult with the professionals who provide aftercare.”
OCB, as Moran refers to it, costs more than $10,000 for a few days, and if it fails, he has no more services for you.
I reached out to Moran by email, but he did not respond.
This case continues a pattern found in The Frank Report. It seems we have another wealthy father buying custody.
Cobie’s ex is Dr. Neal Graber, a wealthy dentist.
Here is how Cobie described the affair in an email, “In short, he bought our kids while making me spend my last dime in an effort to protect them. Then, proclaimed himself the only financially stable parent and assumed full custody after losing it in court. On January 9, 2019, GAL Plancher testified that my children cannot contact me for fear of the wrath of my ex-husband. The judge took no action.”
In that way, it is similar to the Karen Riordan case, which has received lots of attention here on The Frank Report.
It’s also similar in another way; both mothers initially started their cases with physical custody of their children.
Cobie told me she initially received a temporary restraining order (TRO). Part of that TRO is below.
Cobie told me that her ex-husband would receive more and more custody time as time progressed. Then, the court looked the other way as he blatantly withheld the children, she told me.
Dr. Graber also stopped paying the full court-ordered alimony, something the courts would not enforce. Dr. Graber claimed his business was down and/or that he was disabled. He soon stopped paying alimony altogether, Cobie said.
Yet he purchased a new home for $735,000 on December 21, 2020, bought a new Alpha Romeo, and went on luxury vacations.
She has even been to the police, claiming he violates custodial interference laws. Here’s part of a response she received from the Bridgeport Police.
I am not sure that the police can do anything more as this is a “ civil “ custody issue and must be settled through family services court.
If anything needs to be documented we can certainly file a report .
My advise (sic) to you and him equally, is to work with the court / your attorneys.
This is not accurate. In fact, I covered a case in Connecticut, Lori Thaner, who spent time in jail after her kids refused to go back to their father.
Cobie said things came to a head in 2018.
“On March 11, 2018, I left for Maine to have a fifth surgery for endometriosis, which turned into an emergency hysterectomy with complications, and when I came back, I had to give up my apartment because I did not have enough alimony and could not earn enough to cover the cost of food, housing and caring for my children while I work.” She wrote in an email. “My children continue to be brainwashed by my ex-husband and his mother, who isolated my ex-husband from his brother, father, and half-sisters as well as the extended family on both sides.”
She has not seen her kids since.
I reached out to Dr. Graber by email, but he did not respond.
He has had multiple attorneys throughout the process, but one who was on the case for years was Ross Kaufman.
When I reached him by email, he initially was coy, stating by email, “I do not represent Neal Graber.”
This was technically true. As of March 15, 2022, he did not represent Dr. Graber.
He did, however, represent Dr. Graber as recently as earlier in 2022, when he filed this motion in January 2022.
That motion asks the court to have the opposite party pay their fees.
It’s a trick I’ve seen from some real shark lawyers.
After Mr. Kaufman’s role, in this case, was settled, I asked him again if he wanted to comment on any part of the affair.
“No, thank you,” he stated.
Dr. Graber’s current attorney is Forest Green, and he did not respond to an email for comment.
About the author
Michael Volpe has been an investigative journalist for more than a decade. His 2013 expose of Rosilyn Wells, an Affordable Care Act navigator, despite an arrest warrant, made national headlines. His series of articles on the Memphis VA Medical Center in 2014 and 2015 were featured on The O’Reilly Factor and helped lead to the dismissal of the hospital’s director. His exposure of a corrupt Memphis lawyer named Keith Dobbs, who took advantage of veterans in guardianship, helped lead to a sixty-seven county federal indictment. His 2021 release and subsequent series of nearly forty corrupt St. Louis County guardian ad litem led to international headlines and the retirement of St. Louis County presiding judge Michael Burton. He is the author of four books, including “Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and the World’s Last Custody Trial.” His work is now found at michaelvolpe.substack.com.