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Criminal Justice

2nd Adoption Lawyer Gets Federal Time in Baby-Selling Scheme

Posted Feb 24, 2012 6:34 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Once a high-profile California adoption lawyer, Theresa Erickson was sentenced today in San Diego to serve five months in federal prison and nine months in home confinement for the role she played in what prosecutors described as an international baby-selling scheme.

Erickson, 44, who pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, must also pay a $70,000 fine, according to Fox 5 San Diego and the L.A. Now blog of the Los Angeles Times.

She may be required to pay hundreds of thousands more once restitution is determined at a subsequent hearing.

Erickson has resigned from the California bar and apologized in court to her victims today. "I know I have done horribly wrong,'' she said. "For many years I let my judgment be clouded, by ego or otherwise.''

Instead of helping potential surrogate moms and would-be adoptive parents reach agreement prior to pregnancies, which is permissible under California law, Erickson and two co-defendants allegedly set up a stable of pregnant women who were implanted abroad with embryos from unknown donors. Then, pretending that legal surrogacy arrangements had fallen through, they allowed parents to "assume" the surrogacy contracts, as detailed in earlier ABAJournal.com posts.

That wasn't permissible under California law, which requires such post-pregnancy arrangements among strangers to be approved as an adoption.

Another lawyer was sentenced in December to a five-month prison term and seven months in home confinement.

The third co-defendant, who is a nurse, was given a similar sentence in court today.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Prominent Lawyer Pleads Guilty in Baby-Selling Ring"

ABAJournal.com: "Md. Surrogacy Lawyer in Baby-Sale Ring Disbarred, Awaits Sentencing in Federal Wire Fraud Conspiracy"

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