An Orange County adoption attorney pleaded guilty Friday to recruiting pregnant Hungarian women to sell their babies to California couples, authorities said.
According to U.S. District Court officials, Janice J. Doezie, 49, of Villa Park, admitted to participating in the illegal cash-for-babies scheme, committing visa fraud and persuading "illegal aliens to come to the United States."
As part of a plea agreement reached with prosecutors, Doezie "admitted that Hungarian birth mothers and parents were recruited to come to the United States to give up their children in exchange for money," according to a statement by federal prosecutor Daniel McCurrie. When Hungarians did not receive visas, Doezie helped arrange for birth mothers and children to be smuggled into the United States via Canada, the statement said.
Doezie is free on $100,000 bail and is scheduled to be sentenced June 19. She faces 15 years in federal prison. Without the plea agreement, she could have faced 70 years in prison.
Federal and foreign agencies--the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, the Border Patrol, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Hungarian national police--investigated Doezie and others who worked with her. Doezie, who could not be reached for comment late Friday, was arrested in September and named in a nine-count federal indictment.
At the time, her lawyer Lloyd Freeberg of Fullerton said Doezie was stunned by the arrest because she had been cooperating with federal authorities in a three-year investigation.
"She participated in a small number of adoptions," her lawyer said then, adding that Doezie stopped working with the Hungarian group as soon as she realized its tactics were illegal.
Her lawyer said at the time that Doezie "has natural sympathy and a desire to help people have children. She is a mother who adopted children on her own, and she wanted to help others. That's why she went into this business," he said. Doezie has a biological son, 31, and two adopted children, 8 and 9.
The indictment accused Doezie of helping orchestrate two Orange County adoptions in the mid-1990s. It alleged that she persuaded an Orange County couple to write a bogus letter inviting a young Hungarian woman to visit and then falsified paperwork to secure a visa. Later, a member of Doezie's office staff helped to smuggle the woman across the Canadian border into Washington state, officials said.
The practice of bringing pregnant foreign women into the United States to arrange adoptions is widespread, experts say. The bartering of foreign babies, known as "parachute kids," is fueled in part by foreign women who are desperate for money, officials said. American couples typically were charged $12,000 to $20,000 for blond, blue-eyed babies, although one couple paid $80,000, authorities say.