News and Press Releases

Indictment: Adoption fraud
Targeted would-be parents for cash, gifts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Aug. 11, 2011

KANSAS CITY, KAN. – A Kansas City woman and a man who allegedly posed as her boyfriend have been indicted on charges of running an adoption scam in which she pretended to be pregnant with twins and willing to let them be adopted in return for money and gifts, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said today.

The indictment alleges the defendants defrauded 14 couples who spent money hiring attorneys and adoption agencies, purchasing airline tickets, booking hotel rooms and making gifts they believed would pave the way for them to adopt.

Roxanne Janel Jones, 34, Kansas City, Mo., and Taj A. Isaiah, 28, Kansas City, Mo., are charged with one count of conspiracy and four counts of wire fraud. In addition, Jones is charged with three counts of mail fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.

Jones initially was charged in a criminal complaint filed April 13, 2011, in U.S. District Court in Kansas City.

The indictment alleges Isaiah was an acquaintance of Jones who helped her with the scam by pretending at various times to be her husband, her boyfriend or her landlord. The indictment alleges the defendants defrauded couples from California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York and Tennessee, as well as Bonner Springs, Kan., Olathe, Kan., Shawnee, Kan., Leavenworth, Kan., and Florence, Kan.

In one case, the indictment alleges, Jones contacted American Adoptions, an adoption agency in Overland Park, Kan., claiming to be pregnant with twin boys and willing to give them up for adoption. Jones told the company’s adoption specialist she needed help with rent and groceries. As a result, a couple in Minnesota wired $16,265 to an escrow account in Kansas City and the adoption agency began drawing from the account to make payments to Jones.

In another case, the indictment alleges, a California couple flew to Kansas City where they took Jones and Isaiah to dinner and bought Jones massages, a haircut, groceries and meals. When Jones sent them texts to say the twins had been born and could be picked up at the nursery at KU Medical Center, the hospital told the couple there was no record of Jones giving birth. When Jones tried to renew the talk of adoption, she told the couple at various times she had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and she had been injured in a car accident.

Upon conviction, the crimes carry the following penalties:
Conspiracy: A maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $1 million.
Wire fraud: A maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $1 million on each count.
Mail fraud: A maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $1 million on each count.
Aggravated identity theft: A mandatory two years consecutive to other sentences and a fine up to $250,000.

The Overland Park Police Department and the U.S. Secret Service investigated. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom and Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Oakley are prosecuting.

OTHER INDICTMENTS

A grand jury meeting in Kansas City, Kan., also returned the following indictments:

Craig Williams, 21, is charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. The crimes are alleged to have occurred April 28, 2011, in Kansas City, Kan.

If convicted, he faces a penalty of not less than 5 years and not more than 40 years in federal prison and a fine up to $5 million on the possession with intent to distribute charge, and a penalty of not less than 5 years and not more than life and a fine up to $250,000 on the firearms charge. The Kansas City, Kan., Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Rask is prosecuting.

Jeffrey Whitmore, 37, Kansas City, Kan., is charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, one count of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine, one count of unlawful possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm after a felony conviction. The crimes are alleged to have occurred July 20, 2011, in Kansas City, Kan.

Upon conviction, the crimes carry the following penalties:
Possession with intent to distribute marijuana: A maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.
Possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine: A maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $1 million.
Unlawful possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking: Not less than five years and not more than life and a fine up to $250,000.
Unlawful possession of a firearm after a felony conviction: A maximum penalty of 10 years and a fine up to $250,000.

The Kansas City, Kan., Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sheri McCracken is prosecuting.

John B. Holmes, 34, is charged with one count of unlawful possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana within 1,000 feet of Olathe North High School, one count of unlawful possession of a firearm after a felony conviction, and one count of maintaining a residence for the purpose of drug trafficking. The crimes are alleged to have occurred March 17, 2011, in Johnson County, Kan.

Upon conviction the crimes carry the following penalties:
Unlawful possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking: Not less than five years and not more than life and a fine up to $250,000.
Possession with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school: Not less than one year and not more than 10 years and a fine up to $50,000.
Unlawful possession of a firearm after a felony conviction: A maximum penalty of 10 years and a fine up to $250,000.
Maintaining a residence in furtherance of drug trafficking: Not less than one year and not more than 40 years and a fine up to $1 million.

The Olathe Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sheri McCracken is prosecuting.

Jimmy A. Barnes, 41, Iola, Kan., and Stacy Lynn Burdine, 42, Iola, Kan., are charged with two counts of distributing methamphetamine and one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. In addition, Barnes is charged with one count of unlawful possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, one count of unlawful possession of a sawed off shotgun, and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm while a user of controlled substances. The crimes are alleged to have occurred in January and February 2011 in Allen County, Kan.

Upon conviction, the crimes carry the following penalties:
Distributing methamphetamine: A maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $1 million.
Possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine: A maximum penalty of 20 years and a fine up to $1 million.
Unlawful possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking: Not less than 10 years and not more than life and a fine up to $4 million.
Unlawful possession of a sawed off shotgun: A maximum penalty of 10 year and a fine up to $250,000.
Unlawful possession of a firearm by a user of controlled substances: A maximum penalty of 10 year and a fine up to $250,000.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation investigated. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Smith is prosecuting.

Leon Smith, 54, is charged with one count of distributing child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography. The crimes are alleged to have occurred in June and November 2010 in Leavenworth, Kan.

If convicted, he faces a penalty of not less than five years and not more than 20 years and a fine up to $250,000 on the distribution charge, and a maximum penalty of 10 years and a fine up to $250,000 on the possession charge. The FBI investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Rask is prosecuting.

Raul Zapata-Martinez, 35, a citizen of Mexico, is charged with unlawfully re-entering the United States after being deported. He was found July 20, 2011, in Wyandotte County, Kan.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years without parole and a fine up to $250,000. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jabari Wamble is prosecuting.

Manuel Amparan-Mendoza, a citizen of Mexico, is charged with three counts of possession and use of false documents and three counts of aggravated identity theft. The crimes are alleged to have occurred at various times in 2008, 2010 and 2011 in Sedgwick County, Kan.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years without parole and a fine up to $250,000 on each false document charge and a mandatory two years consecutive to any other sentence on each aggravated identity theft count. The Wichita Police Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson is prosecuting.

Laura Velasquez-Galvan, 26, a citizen of Mexico, is charged with one count of possession of false documents, three counts of aggravated identity theft, one count of making a false statement on an I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form, and one count of misusing a Social Security card. The crimes are alleged to have occurred in 2007 in Saline County, Kan.

Upon conviction, the crimes carry the following penalties:
Possession of false documents: A maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison without parole and a fine up to $250,000.
Aggravated identity theft: A mandatory two years in prison to run consecutively to any other sentence on each count and a fine up to $250,000.
False statement on an I-9 form: A maximum penalty of five years without parole and a fine up to $250,000.
Misusing a Social Security number: A maximum penalty of five years without parole and a fine up to $250,000.

The Salina Police Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson is prosecuting.

Michael E. Best, 46, Scammon, Kan., is charged with one count of distributing Hydrocodone within 1,000 feet of a public school and one count of possessing Hydrocodone within 1,000 feet of a public school. The crimes are alleged to have occurred in June and July 2011 in Cherokee County, Kan.

If convicted, he faces a penalty of not less than one year and not more than 20 years without parole and a fine up to $1 million on each count. The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson is prosecuting.

Larry L. Lyons, 57, Wichita, Kan., is charged with one count of fraudulently receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. The crime is alleged to have occurred Dec. 20, 2010, in Sedgwick County, Kan.

If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of five years without parole and a fine up to $250,000. The Social Security Administration - Office of Inspector General and the Kansas Department of Revenue investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson is prosecuting.


In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.

 

 

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