Attorney Sentenced in Baby Selling Ring

Theresa Erickson will serve 14 months for her role in an international baby-selling operation

A respected North County lawyer will serve five months in prison for her role in an international baby-selling operation.

Theresa Erickson appeared in a San Diego courtroom, waiting to be sentenced for her role in a black-market baby ring, she mouthed “I love you” to family members seated in the gallery.

The Poway attorney will serve a 14 month sentence overall, with five months spent in prison. The remaining nine will be spent in home confinement.

The co-defendants arranged for women to receive embryo implants in the Ukraine so that their babies could be sold to unsuspecting parents in the U.S. Carla Chambers was one of those co-defendents. Chambers will serve one year and five months in prison, with a remaining seven months in home confinement.

The parents, who paid $100,000 each, were told the babies were available because other families had backed out of the arrangements.

"I'll do everything I can to make it right," Erickson told the judge inside a federal courthouse in San Diego. "This is not a false promise." 

As the judge considered her punishment Friday, Erickson, 44, looked down, tearful.

The judge said he believed the apology was sincere and sentenced her to 14 months, overriding a plea agreement.

Erickson was also ordered to pay a $70,000 fine.

Erickson had submitted false documents to San Diego Superior Court stating the babies were the products of legitimate surrogacy arrangements. Once the papers were filed, Erickson would then add the names of the parents who had purchased the child.

The ring also requested money from state programs to pay hospital fees for the women who were purposefully made pregnant for profit.

Chambers, who helped recruit the surrogates, was described by a victim as "a greedy con artist who shopped babies to the highest bidder." 

Another member of the international baby-selling ring, Maryland attorney Hilary Neiman is already serving a year prison sentence.

Prosecutors say between 2005 and March 2011, the women sold at least 12 babies.

Prior to her indictment, Erickson was a well-known fertility lawyer, with an office in Poway, and a world-wide reputation.

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Copyright AP - Associated Press
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