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Ex-attorney sentenced in San Diego 'baby-selling' case

December 2, 2011 |  8:35 am

A former Maryland attorney has been sentenced to five months in prison for her role in what federal prosecutors said was a "baby-selling ring."

Hilary Neiman, 32, had pleaded guilty in San Diego federal court to wire fraud and other charges.

Neiman also was sentenced Thursday to serve seven months of home detention, forfeit $133,000 in profits and set aside $20,000 for restitution.

Two other defendants, San Diego attorney Theresa Erickson and "gestational carrier" Carla Chambers, of Las Vegas, both of whom pleaded guilty in the case, are set to be sentenced next year.

According to court documents, Erickson, the organizer of the ring, hired women to go to Ukraine to be implanted with embryos created from the sperm and eggs of donors. Chambers also helped recruit women to carry fetuses to term, officials said.

Women who agreed to carry the embryos to term were paid between $38,000 and $40,000; couples, many desperate to have children, would be charged $100,000 to $150,000 for a baby, according to the court documents.

Erickson would then file court documents asserting falsely that the baby was part of an existing pre-pregnancy agreement between the woman carrying the fetus and the couple -- thus allowing the couple to be listed as the parents of the child on the birth certificate, officials said.

Such agreements are required by law to prevent the "shopping" of babies.


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-- Tony Perry in San Diego