Founder, CEO and Employee with International Adoption Guides Sentenced To Prison For Adoption Fraud Schemes

On Monday, United States Attorney Beth Drake announced that three individuals had been sentenced in a federal court last week. 58-year-old Mary Mooney, 57-year-old James Harding, and 36-year-old Alisa Bivens were all sentenced in connection with Adoption Fraud Schemes.

Mooney was sentenced for Accreditation Fraud associated with an adoption conducted in Kazakhstan. Bivens and Harding were sentenced for conspiring to defraud the United States in relation to adoptions carried out in Ethiopia. Mary Mooney has been sentenced to 18 months with 3 years of supervised release. Mooney has also been ordered to pay more than $223,000 in restitution to the victims who adopted the Kazakhstani child.

Harding was sentenced to 12 months with 3 years of supervised release. He has been orders to pay more than $300,000 in restitutions. Finally, Alisa Bivens has been given one-year probation and is ordered to pay $31,800 restitution to two victims.

During the guilty plea and sentencing hearings for James Harding and Alisa Bivens, evidence presented concluded that Harding, Bivens and Mooney had submitted fraudulent documents to the United States Department of State on behalf of IAG, International Adoption Guides. The documents were used to facilitate adoptions from Ethiopia from 2006 to 2009.

In some cases, false documentation involved contracts signed by orphanages that had no right to give up the children for adoption. Some children never received care from the orphanages listed in the contracts. Bivens and Harding admitted that they engaged in a scheme with Mooney to bribe two Ethiopian officials to help facilitate the fraudulent adoptions. Both pled guilty to the crimes and cooperated with the United States government.

During Mooney’s hearings, evidence explained that Mooney had made false statements to the Council of Accreditation to acquire accreditation for IAG. Many clients relied on IAG’s accreditation with the COA to confirm that IAG would be trustworthy and ethical. In IAG’s applications for accreditation, Mooney made several false representations.

She lied about IAG being in compliance with relevant regulations. She also intentionally failed to list Alisa Bivens as being an employee with IAG. She also failed to disclose the relationship James Harding had with the company. The United States Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service was responsible for investigating the case.