Michael Volpe Investigates
Michael Volpe Investigates
Soviet Style Horror as CPS Steals and Traffics Special Needs Child in Orange County CA

Soviet Style Horror as CPS Steals and Traffics Special Needs Child in Orange County CA

Ilya Tseglin describes his nightmare which is more than a decade in the making.
Nate Tseglin, from an Orange County Register story

Ilya Tseglin was born and raised in the former Soviet Union, but he once said that Soviet tactics did not even compare to the shocking experience he faced in Orange County, CA Probate Court.

Here is part of a 2008 story on his case.

The Tseglins, as former citizens of the Soviet Union, have good reason to be fearful of the authorities. But they tell me that they experienced nothing of this sort in the former communist nation. If their descriptions are correct, then the Soviets weren’t the only ones who know how to create a totalitarian bureaucracy.

The story of how Child Protective Services first stole and then trafficked Ilya’s son, Nate, has been told at least twice before: first in 2008 and then in 2012.

Michael Volpe Investigates is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

As Ilya told me, CPS came into his home three times and snatched his son; all three times a judge would eventually reverse the decision, but the state has kept his son in a group home, where he remains today.

The reasons that CPS- Ilya’s case is in Orange County- gave for taking Nate were shocking and their depravity only got worse as things went along. In 2007, CPS tried to claim that because Ilya and his wife did not want to give Nate a psychotropic drug this was a reason to snatch him.

After the complaint, social workers intervened and decided that the judgment of a psychologist who examined Nate’s records but never even met the boy trumped a lifetime of treatment and experiences by his parents, Ilya and Riva Tseglin. Without prior notice, “the San Diego Health and Human Services agency social worker, with the aid of law enforcement, forcibly removed a struggling and terrified autistic boy … from his home, while his mother and father, who are Russian Jewish immigrants, and Nate’s younger brother stood by helplessly,” according to the complaint the parents, who have since moved to Irvine to be near Nate, filed with the court.

The forced removal came after the Tseglins came to loggerheads with the government over Nate’s proper treatment. The parents are opposed to the use of psychotropic drugs and argue that Nate has had strong negative reactions to them. They point to success they’ve had with an alternative, holistic approach that focuses on diet and psychiatric counseling. The government disagreed, so it took the boy away from home and initially placed him in a group home – where he had the same negative reaction to the drugs that his parents predicted would happen.

Of course, once social workers are involved in a family, they are reluctant to relinquish their power – something I’ve found in every Child Protective Services case I’ve written about. And even though the court determined “the evidence is clear that the parents have always stood by and tried to help their son,” the court sided with the government. That’s another common theme from these closed family-court proceedings – the social workers’ words are taken as gospel, and the parents are treated like enemies and given little chance to defend themselves.

By 2012, the third attempt, the allegation was serious.

Nate Tseglin was living in a filthy, locked bedroom that reeked of urine, scratching himself to the point of bleeding, making himself vomit and banging his head on walls in his parents’ apartment, police say.

When panic attacks seized him, the 22-year-old Irvine man sometimes kicked, punched and bit – injuring family, caretakers, medical professionals and law enforcement, according to police and public records.

Tseglin has Asperger’s syndrome, which is a form of autism, and post-traumatic stress disorder. For years, the U.S.-born man was under the care of his parents, Russian Jewish immigrants Ilya and Riva Tseglin.

Only, none of it was true. They dropped the charges and CPS could not substantiate any of the allegations, Ilya told me, but Nate remains in a group home to this day.


It seemed CPS was willing to accuse Ilya and his wife of anything to take his boy.

Though he is special needs, Nate was thriving in his parent’s care while he has devolved in state care.

Even with three caretakers on duty all day and night, it is difficult to care for him.

Tseglin, who is fluent in Russian, English and Hebrew, holds a black belt in tae kwon do.

“It has become apparent over the course of the last few years that Nate’s condition is worsening, and that his parents do not appear to be able to handle his fragile emotional state,” Irvine police Officer J. Sampson wrote in his investigation report in June.

Why? Ilya told me he believes that the state gets funds for housing him.

The case is voluminous; the online docket shows over two thousand entries. Because he is special needs, the state has been able to keep Nate in conservatorship under its control even after he turned eighteen. Conservatorship is run through the probate court system.

Both the California Attorney General’s Office and the San Diego Regional Center are involved, and I reached out to both but received no response.

Ilya has not only been investigated by police, but he was deemed a vexatious litigant, who now needs permission from the court to file any document.

His son remains in the group home where he continues to be abused, Ilya told me.

Someone is determined to keep him there.

Check out the interview with Ilya in the podcast at the top.


Check out the previous articles in this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8. Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24, and Part 25.

To support more stories like this please consider contributing to the Orange County fundraiser.


After publication, the California Attorney General’s Office released this statement to me.

“Since one of California DOJ's primary functions is to serve as legal counsel to state officers and state agencies, boards, and commissions, the California Department of Justice is listed on client court filings as the attorney of record. As this is a client matter, any additional questions are best directed to the Department of Developmental Services. “

Read Michael Volpe Investigates in the Substack app
Available for iOS and Android

Michael Volpe Investigates
Michael Volpe Investigates
I give voice to the voiceless with true original reporting on topics the rest of the media is too afraid or lazy to cover.