The woman who helped actress Angelina Jolie adopt her Cambodian baby son appeared in federal court in Seattle Thursday to face charges of being part of a ring that paid destitute mothers $100 each to give up their children.
Lauryn Galindo, of Kauai, Hawaii, and her sister Lynn Devin charged adoptive parents as much as $10,500 to bring Cambodian children purported to be orphans to the United States, according to an indictment handed down last year.
In many cases, the Cambodian children were given up by their parents in exchange for payments of as little as $100, according to court documents.
Since the children were described as “abandoned” and in some cases were misidentified, the government charged the two women with visa fraud.
Seattle resident Devin, who ran Seattle International Adoptions with Galindo, pleaded guilty last month under a sealed plea agreement and is scheduled to be sentenced in March.
Galindo, who was taken into custody this week, appeared in court and was released on an appearance bond, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Lord said.
In one instance, Galindo faxed Devin documents with a notation saying “Father dead -- mother very poor -- Kampong Speu,” referring to a 4-year-old girl who was with her birth mother in Cambodia, according to the indictment.
Devin and Galindo then directed the adoptive parents to pay $100 to the birth mother and donate $3,500 to the Kampong Speu orphanage, while they claimed on the girl’s visa application the parents and relatives were unknown.
Prosecutors have said that the investigation will not change the status of hundreds of children adopted through the Seattle adoption agency.
Jolie adopted her Cambodian-born son, Maddox, last year after meeting him in an orphanage in November 2001.
Concerns over Cambodian adoptions led U.S. immigration authorities to suspend adoptions from the Southeast Asian country in December 2001.