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Rockville-based surrogacy lawyer disbarred after pleading guilty to fraud

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October 30th, 2011, 10:11 AM
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Sentencing postponed for attorney accused in California baby-selling scheme
by Danielle E. gaines, Staff Writer

Hilary Neiman, the Rockville-based attorney who was investigated by the FBI for running an illegal international surrogacy ring, can no longer practice law in Maryland.

Neiman, who founded and ran the National Adoption and Surrogacy Center out of Rockville’s Town Center, was disbarred Thursday by the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland. The petition for disbarment was brought jointly by the commission and Neiman’s attorney, said Glenn Grossman, bar counsel for the commission.

The phone number to Neiman’s center in Rockville was disconnected Friday and all information previously listed on the website, The National Adoption and Surrogacy Center, was removed.

Neiman ran the center from a small office at a complex at 30 Courthouse Square in Rockville and joined an illegal international baby-selling ring out of California in 2008, according to federal court filings.

She pleaded guilty July 28 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud after federal authorities uncovered a scheme in which Neiman and Theresa Erickson, a Poway, Calif.-based attorney, paid women to become pregnant by unknown donors and later filed fraudulent surrogacy agreements in California with unsuspecting parents.

Neiman’s sentencing hearing, orignally scheduled for Oct. 14, has been moved to Dec. 2, according to online court records. Erickson will be sentenced Dec. 16.

Each face a maximum sentence of five years in custody and a $250,000 fine.

Neiman’s attorney, San Diego-based Joseph Mark McMullen, said he would not comment on the case before his client is sentenced.

How the ring worked

In the weeks after Neiman, Erickson and Carla Chambers, a “surrogacy facilitator,” pleaded guilty to fraud charges, FBI investigators released more information about how the scheme worked, calling it a shocking tale that played on the emotions of couples who desperately wanted children.

Together, the women flouted surrogacy laws that require contracts between surrogates and intended parents to be executed before a pregnancy occurs.

Chambers would visit adoption and surrogacy chat rooms and online forums to find surrogates and parents.

The surrogates were made to travel to Ukraine to become implanted with embryos from anonymous donors. The surrogates were led to believe that they were participating in legal surrogacy arrangements and that there was a waiting list of potential parents for the babies. They also had to agree to give birth in California.

Neiman and Erickson would wait until the second or third trimester of the pregnancies before looking for couples who wanted to adopt.

The couples were told the unborn babies were the result of legitimate surrogacy arrangements, but the original intended parents had backed out. They were offered the opportunity to “assume” the non-existent surrogacy agreement.

The attorneys then drafted contracts between the surrogates and intended parents, well after the time frame required by law.

The parents would pay between $100,000 and $150,000 to the defendants, but less than half of that went to the surrogate — Erickson, Neiman, and Chambers pocketed the rest.

Erickson also filed fraudulent forms with a California insurance program that subsidized the hospital costs for delivery.

The documents do not show how many women and babies were involved or how much money was made.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason A. Forge, who is prosecuting the case, could not be reached Friday.

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Mommy to Damon TS to Kyle 10/07 GS for E and R--WE ARE PREGNANT!!
Try 1--Sept 2010 negative Try 2--Jan 2011 negative
Try 3--May 2011-miscarried at 5 weeks
Transfer 4---PREGNANT!!! BFP @ 5.5dp3dt Beta at 11dp3dt was 164.6

Ultrasound showed TWO BABIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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