Former Lawyer Gets 1-Year Sentence in International Baby-Selling Scam
A former lawyer who pled guilty to helping run an international baby-selling ring was sentenced yesterday to serve five months in federal prison, followed by seven months in home confinement.
Hilary Neiman, 32, was the first of three women who pled guilty to the crime to be sentenced, the San Diego Union Tribune reports. Theresa Erickson, another lawyer involved, and a third defendant from Las Vegas are awaiting sentencing.
Under California law, potential surrogates can enter an agreement with prospective parents, but the agreement must be made after the surrogate becomes pregnant. The defendants are accused of creating an inventory of babies, obtained by paying women between $38,000 and $45,000 to travel to the Ukraine and undergo in-vitro fertilization. When the surrogates returned to the U.S. the defendants found prospective parents, according to the Union Tribune. The individuals were falsely told that the original parents dropped out, and they could have the babies for $100,000. The cost was described as a fee for a surrogate agreement.
Neiman, who practiced in Maryland, became involved in 2008. Her lawyer Joseph McMullen says she was tricked by the other two defendants, much like the unknowing adoptive parents.
At Neiman’s sentencing hearing, San Diego U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia seemed dubious. He nixed a prior plea agreement that Neiman only serve nine months in home confinement, and ordered that she forfeit $133,000, which the government estimated she earned from the adoption deals.
“You preyed upon the weak. You preyed upon the desperate,” Battaglia told Neiman. “I don’t know you’re convinced yet that you did something wrong.”
ABAJournal.com: “Md. Surrogacy Lawyer in Baby-Sale Ring Disbarred, Awaits Sentencing in Federal Wire Fraud Conspiracy”
ABAJournal.com: “Prominent Lawyer Pleads Guilty in Baby-Selling Ring”