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Police Charge Two in Au Pair Probe

June 29, 1999

CHESTER, England (AP) _ Police have charged the parents of Louise Woodward, the British au pair convicted of killing the baby in her care in Massachusetts two years go, with fraud in connection with a defense fund set up for their daughter.

Cheshire police, who have been investigating allegations against Ms. Woodward’s parents, refused to name the two people charged. They identified them only as a 43-year-old man and a 42-year-old woman. But their attorney’s confirmed the charges.

``The charges are vigorously denied,″ said Neil Cobley, attorney for Gary Woodward.

``Susan Woodward vigorously denies the allegations which have been made against her and her husband,″ said her attorney, Sean Sexton.

The couple, who are separated, were both charged with two offenses under the 1968 Theft Act and were bailed to appear in Chester magistrates court on July 26, a police spokesman said.

Cheshire police began working with the FBI in an investigation of Ms. Woodward’s parents following allegations that a forged invoice was used by Mrs. Woodward to claim more than $14,000 in rent and expenses during the weeks she stayed at the home of her daughter’s lawyer, Elaine Whitfield Sharp.

Whitfield Sharp and her husband, Dan Sharp, deny charging Mrs. Woodward a penny. They say the invoice was written on stolen letterhead.

Mrs. Woodward has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in connection with her daughter’s defense fund, which was set up to help the family with their huge legal bills and living expenses during the trial and the time spent in the Boston area awaiting the result of the appeal.

Louise Woodward was convicted by a Massachusetts court in October 1997 of second-degree murder for the death of 8-month-old Matthew Eappen. A judge later reduced the verdict to manslaughter and sentenced her to the 279 days she had already served since her arrest, allowing her to return home to England.

The Woodwards, from Elton, Cheshire, 6 miles north of Chester in central England, are now separated. They still live in Cheshire county.

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