A woman in Texas who allegedly managed aspects of an international program at an Ohio-based adoption agency pleaded guilty on Monday for her role in a scheme to corruptly facilitate adoptions of Ugandan children through bribing Ugandan officials and defrauding U.S adoptive parents and the U.S Department of State.
US media outlets identified the woman as Robin Longoria, 58, of Mansfield, Texas and she pleaded guilty before U.S Magistrate Judge William H. Baughman, Jr of the Northern District of Ohio to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), to commit wire fraud and to commit visa fraud.
Longoria will now be sentenced on January 8, 2020 before U.S District Judge Christopher A. Boyko of the Northern District of Ohio.
“The defendant compromised protections for vulnerable Ugandan children and undermined the United States’ visa screening process,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
“Today’s plea ensures that she is held accountable for the far-reaching consequences of her corrupt conduct.”
“This defendant has admitted to playing a part in a conspiracy in which judges and other court officials in Africa were paid bribes to corrupt the adoption process,” said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman of the Northern District of Ohio. “We are committed to pursuing justice for the adoptive parents and for all parties involved.”
“While adoptive families were financially and emotionally invested in the welfare of their future child, misrepresentations were made by Ms. Longoria and others to disguise bribe payments made to court officials in Uganda,” said Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith of the FBI’s Cleveland Field Office.
“We are pleased Ms. Longoria has accepted responsibility for her role in facilitating an international adoption scam.”
As part of her guilty plea, Longoria admitted, among other things, that she and her co-conspirators agreed to, and did, cause bribes disguised as fees to be paid to an Uganda agent.
Longoria knew that these fees would and were used by the to pay bribes to court registrars and Ugandan High Court judges to corruptly influence the court registrars to assign particular cases to “adoption-friendly” judges and to corruptly influence the judges to grant the U.S. clients of the adoption agency the authority to bring the Ugandan children to the United States for the purpose of adoption.
Longoria also admitted that she and her co-conspirators agreed to, and did, conceal these bribes from the adoption agency’s U.S. clients.
Additional reporting from agencies..