The first of three women who pleaded guilty to her role in an international baby-selling ring has been sentenced to one year in custody by a US federal judge according to a news report in Signon San Diego. The judge admonished her for preying on people’s desire to have children and said she had brought the legal profession into disrepute.
Former Maryland lawyer, Hilary Neiman, was also ordered by US District Judge Anthony Battaglia to forfeit $133,000 being the known profits that prosecutors said she made for her part in the fraud.
The sentence was more severe than the nine months home confinement both sides had agreed. The judge disagreed and sentenced her to five months in prison and a further seven months in home confinement following her guilty plea in April to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The judge said he was not convinced that she fully appreciated the seriousness of her involvement in the fraud.
Hilary Neiman was charged alongside a former prominent US surrogacy lawyer from Poway and a woman from Las Vegas for the fraud which profited from surrogacy laws in California. They recruited US surrogate mothers to travel to the Ukraine for IVF treatment and then found parents to “assume” fake surrogacy agreements for sums reported to cost around $100,000. The other two women are due to be sentenced in January 2012.
The fraud has sent shock waves through the international surrogacy and fertility law community and graphically demonstrates the need for anyone contemplating an international surrogacy arrangement to take great care and to obtain reputable expert legal help.