SEATTLE – A baby-selling scandal targeted local couples anxious to adopt.
The families thought they were adopting orphans from overseas, but in many cases the babies weren’t orphans.
Wednesday, the woman who helped set up the adoptions pleaded guilty.
Lauryn Galindo has claimed all she wanted to do was give poor third world children a loving home. But, federal investigators say she preyed on poor Cambodian families to buy and sell their babies.
She matched dozens of Cambodian children with U.S. parents through her sister’s former adoption agency.
“We want people to know who Lauryn Galindo and what her work was,” said Jay Stansell, her attorney.
Her most high profile case? Matching movie star Angelina Jolie with her son Maddox two years ago. Jolie met her son while visiting a Cambodian orphanage in Africa.
Though praised as an international humanitarian, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has been investigating Galindo for alleged child trafficking. In a plea agreement, Galindo only admitted to visa fraud: In two cases, adopting out babies who were not orphans, though she claimed they were.
Investigators believe some of the mothers were so desperate for cash, they sold their children.
A local couple was a victim. Years after adopting their Cambodian daughters, the girls biological mother came forward to say she was forced to give them up.
For months, Galindo denied doing anything wrong. But she entered a guilty plea Wednesday.
“A very good negotiated settlement for her and we’re happy with the settlement,” Stansell said.
So, what happens to the adopted children? The U.S. Attorney’s office says none of them will be taken away from their American families.
Galindo’s plea comes just 6 months after her sister pleaded guilty to visa fraud and money laundering. Both are awaiting sentencing. Galindo faces a max of 20 years in prison.
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