Attorney admits guilt in baby-selling ring
An internationally known Poway attorney who specialized in reproductive law pleaded guilty Tuesday to a key role in what federal authorities said was a baby-selling ring.
Theresa Erickson, 43, admitted that she and her co-conspirators used women to create an inventory of unborn babies that they would sell for over $100,000 each, according to the San Diego offices of the U.S. attorney.
Federal prosecutors said three women —- Erickson, along with Hilary Neiman, an attorney from Maryland, and Carla Chambers, a surrogate mother —- admitted guilt in the scheme. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Merriman said that Erickson agreed to pay restitution of $120,000 —- $10,000 each to 12 couples victimized in the scheme, which started as far back as 2005.
The parents in the scheme did receive children, however, they are considered victims and “we are certainly not taking steps” that would see the parents lose custody of the children, Merriman said.
Under the conspiracy, women would go to overseas clinics and have embryos implanted, becoming pregnant.
Once the pregnancy entered the second trimester, Erickson and co-conspirators would solicit prospective parents willing to pay the high fees to buy the parental rights for an unborn baby, the charges state.
The timing of when a deal is struck matters. Before conception, a woman can agree to become pregnant for profit, under California law. After conception, however, the woman cannot profit from being pregnant and supplying a child to prospective parents. The first instance is considered surrogacy, the second instance is adoption.