When individuals or couples turn to surrogacy and egg donor agencies, they have likely already endured a painful and emotional upheaval in their lives. Conceiving a baby naturally never came to fruition. By the time they seek the help of an agency, so many have had numerous failed fertility attempts and have been wounded on so many levels.
With the help of a surrogacy agency, these wounds can heal through a renewed hope of parenthood.
However, a Los Angeles County business owner victimized more than 40 clients who searched for this hope, along with the women who wanted to help these clients have their babies.
In the City of Glendora, the owner of Miracles Egg Donation, Allison Layton, 38, who also went by the name of Allison Jarvie, was sentenced for swindling more than $250,000 from intended parents, surrogates, and egg donors. Layton’s prison term is for a year and a half, which the judge mandated be followed by three years of probation.
A restitution hearing is on the docket for October 22.
According to City News Service she pled guilty in February to federal wire fraud.
They reported that Layton, “…claimed to handle the logistics of the donation and surrogacy process, and operated it out of her living room, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.” They continued, “Between August 2008 and January 2012, would-be parents — who in the surrogacy and egg donation world are known as intended parents — paid thousands of dollars for egg donation and surrogacy services that Miracles promised to coordinate, federal prosecutors said.”
Funds that Layton collected from clients were misused. Rather than depositing them into an escrow account where monies could be utilized for cost-related expenses for surrogacy and egg donation, Layton used the monies as she wished, including spending approximately $60,000 of misappropriated funds on her own wedding.
Sadly, many intended parents did not receive all of the services for which they had paid, and egg donors, surrogates, and attorneys often were not fully compensated for the services they had provided.
“When the donors, surrogates and intended parents sought to recover their money and costs, Layton would lull them into believing they would be repaid through false assurances that payments had already been made or would be made soon, court papers show,” the media publication wrote.
This story grows more painful when hearing from the victims.
One is a surrogate who spoke out on CBS Los Angeles. Bethany Torres, 30, decided to sign up with Miracles Egg Donation in 2011 as a repeat surrogate.
According to Torres, she was receiving monthly payments, and suddenly they stopped.
As reported by CBS Los Angeles, “She [Torres] received only $19,000 of the $50,000 she was owed and soon found out that the FBI was investigating Layton for defrauding other surrogates, egg donors, would-be parents, and investors.”
In a statement Torres said Layton should be “ashamed of herself.” She was also candid in stating that she didn’t think the sentence time was appropriate.
“For the amount of money that she stole and the lives that she destroyed, a year and a half is nothing,” she told reporters. “But it is something.”
On a personal note, Layton owed me approximately $5,000 in unpaid legal fees. Fortunately, after much persistence, I was paid. I also worked with many egg donors who underwent egg retrieval, only to not receive the reimbursement Layton had promised would be held for them in trust. My donors finally did get paid, but I had one surrogate whose Australian intended parents fell victim to Layton and lost all the money they had invested into the surrogacy process, which was approximately $25,000. Ultimately, they found a reputable agency in California that was kind enough to deeply discount all services provided to them, and the couple welcomed a child into their family this year.
What Layton did was awful. She robbed the dreams of those who wanted to be parents after struggles of infertility, cancer treatments, and so much more, and took advantage of the surrogates, egg donors, and others to whom she owed large sums of money.
For those looking for a surrogacy agency, please get referrals from fertility specialists and third- party reproductive attorneys who know top-tier agencies nationwide.