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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, January 6, 2004

Indictment alleges fraud in adoptions

By Timothy Hurley
Advertiser Staff Writer

A Kaua'i woman is expected to surrender to authorities in Seattle tomorrow to face federal fraud charges that she engineered the adoptions of Cambodian children who were not orphans and in at least one case paid the birth mother $100.

Lauryn Galindo, 52, of Hanalei, was named in a federal indictment as a conspirator, along with her sister, Lynn Devlin of Mercer Island, Wash., in a scheme to buy Cambodian children and represent them as orphans.

Devlin, who runs Seattle International Adoptions Inc., pleaded guilty Dec. 10 to committing visa fraud by falsifying documents to get U.S. visas for Cambodian children. She will be sentenced March 12 in federal court in Seattle.

Galindo, 52, who lives in Hanalei and works as an adoption "facilitator" for a number of adoption agencies, including her sister's, has arranged hundreds of adoptions since traveling to Cambodia in the early 1990s.

Among her clients are a number of Hawai'i families and Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie, who adopted a Cambodian boy two years ago.

U.S. Department of Justice officials could not be reached yesterday to comment on the case.

Reached by cell phone, Galindo referred calls to California media consultant Steve Jaffe, who said he couldn't talk at length to the media on the advice of Galindo's lawyer, New Jersey trial attorney Mark Lane.

Jaffe, however, did say Galindo maintains her innocence and that she's cooperating with federal investigators.

She and Lane are expected to meet with federal attorneys for the first time tomorrow.

In recent years, news reports have portrayed Galindo in a positive light for overcoming wartime conflicts, government bureaucracy and other obstacles to find homes for unwanted and impoverished orphans in Cambodia.

But U.S. authorities have been concerned about Cambodian adoptions for some time and two years ago suspended adoptions from that country by U.S. citizens.

The Nov. 6 grand jury indictment charges Galindo and Devin with illegally obtaining immigrant visas "to expedite the adoption process" and "enhance their profits" between 1997 and 1999.

The charges say Galindo and Devin misled U.S. immigration officials into believing the children were orphans and into issuing them visas.

In one instance, according to the document, Galindo in January 1998 faxed to her sister from Cambodia the medical records of a child to be adopted. They contained the handwritten note: "Father dead — mother very poor ... "

Four months later, the indictment said, Galindo told the adoptive parents to give the birth mother $100 and to donate $3,500 to the Kampong Speu orphanage that housed the child.

Galindo and Devin then allegedly filed for a U.S. visa, claiming the child was an orphan.

The two women charged about $10,500 for their adoptions, according to court documents.

Jaffe said Galindo has received lots of support from former clients and those who know about her plight.

Contact Timothy Hurley at thurley@honoluluadvertiser.com or (808) 244-4880.