exposing the dark side of adoption
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New York Daily News (NY)


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.

Working with a Mexican lawyer, Mario Reyes, the women smuggled children most of them infants born to single mothers across the border from Agua Prieto, Mexico, into Douglas, Ariz., by using Mexican women who posed as birth mothers, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Macht.

"I still find it hard to believe that being adoptive parents themselves, they would take advantage of people so desperate," said Aaron Britvan, attorney for eight victimized couples.

Lieberman or Reingold would take the children, many with serious medical problems such as severe malnutrition, and deliver them to the adoptive parents, charging in excess of $20,000 per child and inflated, exorbitant expenses, authorities said.

The women lied about the status of the children, gave the couples sham birth certificates and consent forms, and made false statements about the health of the babies, according to court papers.

Immigration officials said that unless evidence of kidnapping emerges, they will not break up any of the illegally created families.

Stephen Scaring, a lawyer for Reyes, said he was surprised by the guilty pleas.

1999 Jul 16