Two women plead guilty in Mexican baby smuggling case

Date: 1999-07-16

Associated Press Archive
Author: TOM HAYS; Associated Press Writer
Dateline: NEW YORK

Two women have admitted to taking part in an illegal adoption ring in which 17 Mexican babies were smuggled across the border and placed in American homes for $20,000 or more.

Arlene Reingold and Arlene Lieberman pleaded guilty to breaking immigration laws. Conspiracy charges were dropped in exchange for their pleas.

The two neighbors in the Long Island community of Medford face up to two years, three months in prison. Each was ordered to pay $43,500 restitution to the American families.

The women are free on bail until their sentencing; no date was set. Both refused to comment as they left federal court.

The two came to the attention of authorities in 1990, when the state Department of Social Services received complaints that they were arranging adoptions without a license.

The women were arrested in May with a third defendant, Mario Reyes, 40, a Douglas, Ariz., lawyer with an office in a Mexican border town.

Reyes allegedly paid to have babies -- some only days old -- smuggled across the border to his Arizona home. From there, according to court papers, Reingold and Lieberman took the babies to the New York City area and delivered them to adoptive parents without any of the required immigration and adoption paperwork.

Prosecutor Timothy Macht said he could not comment on how the children were obtained in Mexico.

Mark Thorn, a spokesman for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, said the agency would work to secure citizenship for the children.

"The INS views these children as innocent victims," he said. "We have no intention of removing them from this country."

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