27 Feb 2009

Group involved in adoption scam in Samoa sentenced in US court

8:05 am on 27 February 2009

The adoption agency, Focus on the Children corporation, and four former employees have been sentenced in a US federal court for their role in facilitating the fraudulent adoption of children from Samoa.

Scott Banks, Karen Banks, Coleen Bartlett, and Karalee Thornock, received 60 months probation as part of a plea agreement in which they admitted aiding and abetting the improper entry of an alien.

The corporation, Focus on Children or FOC, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit alien smuggling and visa fraud.

The U.S. District Judge, David Sam, ordered FOC to dissolve once pending litigation involving the corporation is resolved.

Additionally, Scott and Karen Banks will forfeit their rights to business and adoption records.

The pair also agreed to cooperate with the government in disclosing their adoption practices in Samoa, Russia, Vietnam and Guatemala.

In addition, the defendants will be ordered to make contributions to a trust fund established to provide assistance to affected families.

The trust fund will facilitate communication between the adoptive families and birth parents.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government has been unable to extradite the other two defendants, Samoan citizens Tagaloa Ieti and Julie Tuiletufuga, who are still in Apia.