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By Tom Finnegan

KAUAI, Hawaii (The Garden Island, Jan. 5) - Lauryn Galindo, 52, of Hanalei, Kauai, is facing conspiracy to commit visa fraud charges in Seattle federal court relating to the adoption of Cambodian children.

Federal prosecutors charge that Galindo, along with her sister, Lynn Devlin, of Washington, and Devlin's company, Seattle International Adoptions, Inc., were buying Cambodian children from their parents and representing them as orphans.

Seattle International Adoptions, Inc. was closed down after Devlin pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit visa fraud and conspiracy to launder money charges on December 10. Her plea agreement with prosecutors remains sealed. She will be sentenced on March 12 in federal court in Seattle.

The arrests were part of an international investigation codenamed "Operation Broken Hearts," according to a report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Dec. 18. U.S. authorities suspended most adoptions by U.S. citizens of children from Cambodia about two years ago, the report states.

Galindo, as of last week, had not been arrested and remains on Kaua'i.

When reached on her local cell phone last week, Galindo referred questions to her media consultant, Steven Jaffe of California. Jaffe would not publicly comment either, referring all questions to Galindo's New Jersey-based lawyer. He did not return phone calls from The Garden Island.

According to the grand jury indictment, filed in federal court in Seattle on November 6: "It was the object of the conspiracy to expedite the adoption process for Cambodian children to United States families and to enhance their profits."

"The defendants would falsely represent to the United States Department of State and the Immigration and Naturalization Service the fact that adopted children were orphans, and would falsely represent the identity of adopted children," the indictment continued.

But Galindo contends that she is a humanitarian who helps the Cambodian children who come under her care.

In an article published in June, 2002, in The Cambodia Daily, Galindo showed off numerous awards from the Cambodian government to reporter Richard Sine.

"When people ask me what I do, I don't say adoptions," she said. "I say humanitarian work."

Since she arrived in Cambodia in 1990, she has facilitated hundreds of adoptions, mostly to parents from the United States, the article said. She was the facilitator last year for the adoption of a Cambodian child by "Tomb Raider" star Angelina Jolie and her ex-husband, Billy Bob Thornton.

The adoption by Jolie was the subject of news reports published worldwide last week.

"I didn't come here to steal children of the nation," she said in the article. "I came here to do what I could to help."

As her adoption work grew, so did the number of services she supported through donations. She pays most of the expenses of five orphanages in Cambodia, according to the report. She recently built two schools by donating the construction money to a top politician. And she bankrolled dentists to travel the country to provide free services, she said in the article.

But she still faces the federal charges.

According to the indictment, in 1998, a visa was granted for a supposedly orphaned girl when, the grand jury said, Galindo and the adoptive parents had already met the birth mother.

The documents state that the adoptive parents paid a total of $10,500 for the adoption, including a $2,500 application fee and a $3,500 donation to the orphanage. According to the document, the birth mother received $100.

January 6, 2004

The Garden Island: www.kauaiworld.com/news


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