Associated Press Archive
Author: LAURA WIDES; Associated Press Writer
Dateline: GUATEMALA CITY
A U.N. investigator began examining the international adoption business in Guatemala on Monday, focusing on high agency fees and allegations that women are pressured to give up their babies.
Poverty, lax regulation and the country's 36-year civil war have made Guatemala the fourth-largest foreign supplier of children to U.S. adoptive parents. Only Russia, China and South Korea send more children to the United States.
U.N. special investigator Ofelia Calcetas-Santos came to Guatemala at the government's request to study allegations that children are being sold to adoptive parents. She met Monday with government representatives and children's advocates.
In recent years, local child advocacy groups have complained of lawyers who force or trick mothers into giving up their children, and of large amounts of money paid by adoptive parents.
Most of the groups support international adoptions but say the government should better regulate the process.
Two Long Island women known in adoption circles as the two Arlenes pleaded guilty yesterday to smuggling Mexican children into the United States and selling them to desperate prospective parents.
The women, who declined to comment about the case, admitted bringing Mexican children some of them sick, and all illegal aliens from Arizona to New York starting in 1995 until they were arrested in May.
Arlene Reingold, 46, and Arlene Lieberman, 48, neighbors from Medford, L.I., face up to 27 months each in prison and $250,000 in fines. Each agreed to pay $43,500 in restitution to be shared by the 17 families they fleeced.
"I brought them through LaGuardia or Kennedy Airport and gave them to the adoptive parents, where they would remain," each woman told Brooklyn Federal Magistrate Judge John Caden in prepared statements they read in court.
A United Nations envoy will visit Guatemala next week to investigate allegations of ''unscrupulous tactics'' in the sale of children to adoptive parents in the United States, Canada, France and Britain, the United Nations said today.
The envoy, Ofelia Calcetas-Santos, will look into the adoption trade in Guatemalan children during her trip from Monday to July 30, and then make recommendations to the Guatemalan Government.
A statement issued by the United Nations said concern had been raised by ''allegations of unscrupulous tactics used during the adoption process, as well as the large amounts of money paid by potential adoptive parents.''
BLOUNTVILLE (AP) -- A former Bristol minister accused of kidnapping, abuse and rape is back in jail.
Joseph Combs had been released in May after posting $150,000 bail, but he was arrested and jailed again Monday after a violation of a bond agreement, according to court records.
Workers at Central Bail Bonds refused to comment Wednesday. The company had posted $26,300 and the rest was raised through liens against friends' property.
Combs and his wife Evangeline are accused of taking a 4-month-old girl from an Indiana children's home 20 years ago under the pretense of adopting her. But they never completed the process and made the girl the family "slave," authorities say. Joseph Combs also is accused of raping her for years.
The allegations came to light in 1997 after the girl was hospitalized for a suicide attempt, and doctors found scar tissue over her body. The girl has since changed her name and lives in another state.
The Combses' trial has been set for early next year. Mrs. Combs was released in March after posting $100,000 bail, which was put up in full by Central Bail Bonds.
Mario Reyes Burgue�o, the Douglas lawyer accused of baby trafficking, was released from custody in New York yesterday after posting a $1 million bond.
Reyes' defense put together seven properties, most of them in Arizona, as security for the bond, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Macht. The properties belong to friends and family members.
During the hearing in New York City, Macht opposed releasing Reyes on the grounds that he has undisclosed assets elsewhere.
A woman who answered the telephone at his house in Douglas said she expected Reyes home tomorrow.
Reyes, 41, has been in custody since he was arrested May 25 at his Douglas house. He faces charges of conspiring to illegally bring 17 babies across the border from Mexico, mail fraud and wire fraud.
Two women from Long Island, N.Y. - Arlene Reingold and Arlene Lieberman - also were arrested May 25 on the same charges. The trio allegedly charged women up to $22,000 apiece for babies brought into the United States illegally.
Watertown Daily Times (NY)
Author: Associated Press
Dateline: NEW YORK
An Arizona man pleaded innocent Friday in Brooklyn federal court to charges he smuggled Mexican children into the United States for adoption.
U.S. Magistrate Joan Azrack ordered Mario Manuel Reyes Burgueno, 41, held until a bail hearing on June 28. Reyes, of Douglas, Ariz., was brought to Brooklyn this week following his arrest on charges of alien smuggling, mail fraud and wire fraud.
"He will be looking forward to the opportunity to clear his good name, " his attorney, Stephen Scarling, said outside court.
Federal prosecutors allege Reyes - who practiced law until November in Agua Prieta, Mexico, across the border from his home - and two Long Island women ran an adoption ring that illegally placed 17 Mexican children in American homes for up to $22,000 per child.
Reyes allegedly used Mexican women with legal border-crossing documents to pose as mothers to bring babies into Arizona. A secretary in Reyes's law firm was arrested in October by Mexican authorities on charges of trafficking in children.
For nearly 20 years, Michael Chalek was tormented with unfulfilled questions of his birth, his adoption and his true parents.
Now, at age 47, he's condemned to know the answers.
Chalek discovered he'd been sold for $200 by a baby broker after his young mother was coerced into giving him up under an assumed name, state records unsealed recently show. Chalek claims that was the beginning of a childhood marked by sexual and verbal abuse.
His adoptive parents and the baby broker cannot defend themselves - they are all dead. But Chalek hopes a lawsuit filed this week in Alachua County will right some of the wrongs: he's asking to annul his 1953 adoption and get a new birth certificate with his true mother's name.
``By me doing that, it's making a statement that ought to be made,'' said Chalek, who moved a few months ago from Boca Raton to Estes, Colo. ``I think the individuals involved in this ought to be exposed.''
That has been Chalek's lifelong quest. He has been aided by investigators, including Virginia Snyder.
The Arizona Daily Star
Author: Rhonda Bodfield Sander
A Douglas attorney accused of smuggling babies across the border will not be able to post bond and get out of jail, a federal magistrate ruled yesterday.
Magistrate Judge Nancy Fiora determined there was a serious risk that Mario Burgue�o Reyes would not appear for trial. He is charged with smuggling 17 undocumented Mexican children into the United States to New York families for as much as $22,000 each.
Reyes, an attorney who holds dual citizenship and practices in Mexico but lives in Douglas, also faces similar criminal charges in Mexico.
Fiora noted Reyes has strong family and economic ties in Mexico and is struggling financially after declaring bankruptcy in 1998. His $200,000 residence, a liquor store and a gas station in Douglas are all included in that case.
She also found the surety he offered - $50,000 equity from the $125,000 home of his parents - is not enough to ensure he'll appear at court proceedings.
Adopted 12-year-old girl and other children endured unusual punishments, officer says.
Author: JOHN MASSON; STAFF WRITER
An Army financial specialist and his wife, who police say locked their 12-year-old daughter in a feces-strewn basement, were charged this week with battery and felony child neglect.
Christopher Slatten, 33, a student at the Indiana University School of Law in addition to his Army duties, remains free on $10,000 bond. He was arrested last week by Lawrence police.
Slatten and his 28-year-old wife, Elizabeth Slatten, adopted the girl from a Russian orphanage several years ago, Detective Sgt. James R. Fouch of the Lawrence Police Department said.
The girl had been living with her parents in the 7900 block of East 46th Street along with several other children who were in the process of being adopted, Fouch said. They were removed by Child Protective Services workers and placed in foster care in February.
"It was a time-consuming process," Fouch said of the investigation. "These kind of cases always take a long time."
By GINGER THOMPSON
When Martina Toscano Quiroz gave three of her seven children up for adoption, her main goal, she said, was to give them a chance for a better life.
She is a single mother who earns less than $40 a week as a cleaning woman in this dusty town on the Arizona-Mexico border. Her home is a fly-infested shack with dirt floors and walls patched together from scraps of wood.
But, she acknowledged, her decisions were not entirely noble. The lawyer who took her children to live with middle-class families in New York made promises so enormous, she said, that it was as if he had offered her the stars.
''He told me he would build me two rooms with new tin for the roof and strong brick walls,'' she said. ''And he told me he would build me a bathroom with a toilet and a faucet.''
Ms. Toscano, 30, never got her new house. She said the lawyer, Mario Manuel Reyes Burgueno, took her daughters -- ages 8, 4 and 2 -- and then told her he could only give her a few hundred pesos for food.
Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ)
Author: Graciela Sevilla and Kathleen Ingley, The Arizona Republic
Mario Reyes, accused of leading an illegal adoption ring that smuggled 17 Mexican babies to couples in New York, was ordered Tuesday to face charges in a federal court in Brooklyn.
Reyes was flanked by three rows of sobbing relatives and friends as U.S. Magistrate Nancy Fiora ordered him transferred from Arizona to New York. Fiora postponed a decision on bail for Reyes, who made his first public appearance since his arrest at his Douglas home last week.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Yarbrough argued against granting Reyes bail because his close ties to Mexico make him a flight risk.
But Reyes' attorney, Ivan Abrams, said Mexico would be the last place Reyes would run because the Mexican federal attorney's office has issued a warrant for Reyes's arrest on charges connected with the adoption operation.
New York Daily News (NY)
Author: AUSTIN FENNER and KEVIN McCOY
Families who adopted Mexican children through an illegal ring are "living with fear and anxiety" that their beloved children will be taken from them, an attorney said yesterday.
Although U.S. and Mexican authorities said the children probably will remain with their adoptive parents, attorney Aaron Britvan said nothing "can take away the feelings that anything can happen."
"Obviously, these people are going to live with anxiety until this is settled," said Britvan, who represents six of the dozen or more metro-area families allegedly victimized by the scam.
Several of the adoptive parents declined interview requests yesterday, saying they needed privacy amid the international outrage triggered by the charges.
"We're under enough pressure," said David Kruchkow, a car salesman from Bayside, Queens, who with his wife, Sara, adopted a now-3-year-old Mexican girl named Maria. "I'm trying to earn a living to provide a home and education for my child."
Woman Admits Using False Papers in Baby-Smuggling Case
By JULIA PRESTON
Published: May 29, 1999
A Mexican woman who worked with a lawyer accused of smuggling babies from Mexico has admitted that the infants were sent to the United States under false documents but insisted that the Mexican mothers gave them up for adoption voluntarily.
Margarita Soto de Smith, 28, a resident of the Mexican border town of Agua Prieta, was arrested there by Mexican federal police on Oct. 27, 1998. In her testimony, which was recorded on videotape, Mrs. Soto told how the lawyer, Mario Manuel Reyes Burgueno, found struggling mothers who were willing to part with their newborns and then used false documents to rush the babies through the normally tedious process of clearance for adoption in the Mexican courts.
Mr. Reyes, a dual citizen of Mexico and the United States, was arrested Wednesday night at his home in Douglas, Ariz., just across the border from Agua Prieta. He is charged with conspiring to violate United States immigration laws and with mail and wire fraud.