By BETH TRIBOLET, TERI WHITCRAFT and SCOTT MICHELS
Four employees of a Wyoming-based adoption agency, Focus on Children,
were sentenced on Wednesday in federal court in Utah to five years on
probation for their role in the scam. Scott and Karen Banks, Coleen
Bartlett and Karalee Thornock have all pleaded guilty to misdemeanor
charges of aiding and abetting the improper entry of an alien. A fifth
defendant, Dan Wakefield, who helped find the children to be adopted in
Samoa, will be sentenced next month.
say the adoption workers and others tricked unwitting Samoan parents
into giving up their children for adoption, telling them that the
children were being sent on an educational program in the United States
and that the children would return to Samoa.
The families didn't know they were giving up their rights to
their children forever. American families paid thousands of dollars for
U.S. District Judge David Sam ordered the four defendants never
to work in the adoption business again and to contribute to a trust
fund for the children.
Sam said the case "cries out for a sentence that's restorative rather than punitive."
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