A federal judge sentenced a Mercer Island woman to home confinement and more than $150,000 in penalties yesterday, closing a wrenching legal battle over an adoption agency that...
A federal judge sentenced a Mercer Island woman to home confinement and more than $150,000 in penalties yesterday, closing a wrenching legal battle over an adoption agency that connected hundreds of American parents with Cambodian children.
Lynn Devin and her sister had run Seattle International Adoptions, the largest agency in the United States that handled adoptions of Cambodian children including one adopted by actress Angelina Jolie.
While the agency billed itself as humanitarian in focus, it turned out that some of the children had been taken from their mothers for a small payment, and some of their visas had been obtained through fraud, prosecutors said.
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Both Devin and her sister, Lauryn Galindo, pleaded guilty to visa fraud and money-laundering conspiracy charges, although it was clear at yesterday’s sentencing that Galindo was the more culpable of the pair. Galindo also pleaded guilty to currency structuring.
“The court has been particularly impressed with the fact that, from all indications, your motivation was not money or greed but was to help children,” U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly told Devin yesterday.
Devin cooperated with authorities and provided information about her sister. She was sentenced to six months of house arrest and electronic monitoring. Galindo was sentenced last month to 18 months in federal prison.
Galindo ran the Cambodian end of the business, taking parents to orphanages and working with government officials there. It turned out that some of the babies were not orphans. Instead, some of Galindo’s associates were buying babies from impoverished mothers and there was evidence Galindo was aware of this, prosecutors said.
Devin was in charge of recruiting adoptive parents in the United States, and prosecutors said there was no evidence she was aware that babies were being bought from parents.
She was aware, however, that in some cases, when the adoption of a child fell through, another child was substituted even though the first child’s information was on the passport and visa applications.
Devin was ordered to forfeit $110,000, pay $10,900 in restitution and a $30,000 fine.