Michigan woman pleads guilty in adoption scheme
NEW HAVEN, Mich. (AP) — A southeastern Michigan woman has pleaded guilty to fraud in a scheme to collect more than $260,000 from couples who wanted to adopt children.
Tara Lee of New Haven wasn’t licensed to arrange adoptions. Prosecutors said she sometimes matched more than one set of adoptive parents to a birth mother and also matched couples to phony birth mothers.
Lee, for example, admits that in June 2018 she told a client that a birth mother named RaShaunda had been shot and killed and the baby had died.
“This was false. Lee made up this story because RaShaunda did not exist,” according to a plea agreement signed by Lee. The woman had paid $15,000 by credit card.
In another case, a couple traveled from Colorado last year but was told that an adoption suddenly had failed because the birth mother had backed out. Another couple was told the same thing. Lee had collected $39,000 from them.
Lee, 38, pleaded guilty Tuesday. She could face eight years or more in prison when she returns to federal court on Nov. 19.
“This is a terrible scam of parents who simply want to make our world better by adopting a child,” the FBI said when Lee was indicted in March.
Prosecutors have also charged Enhelica Wiggins. Investigators said she impersonated birth mothers during conversations with adoptive parents and got payments from Lee. She has pleaded not guilty.