Tonya Collins, former owner of SurroGenesis, a surrogacy agency based in Modesto, California, was sentenced on May 13, 2013 to five years and three months in prison. She was charged four counts of wire fraud back in February, to which she pled guilty. In addition to jail time, Collins must also provide monetary restitution to the families she victimized as well as pay a forfeiture judgment to the U.S (the amounts for each will be determined during a hearing on July 29th). It is reported that some of the defendants dropped their lawsuits because of the costs of obtaining an attorney.
Between November of 2006 and March of 2009 Collins purposefully defrauded her clients – families who sought out her agencyin the efforts of making their parenting dreams come true. According to reports, Collins directed her clients to entrust their money (to be used to cover the costs of the surrogacy) to a local personal property escrow company called Michael Charles Independent Financial Holding Group.
What she didn’t tell them was that she was actually the owner of Michael Charles Independent Financial Group. This meant that she had full access to and control of their funds. She was able to get away with this by creating fake employee identities to give off the impression that the Holding Group was actually an independent and fully staffed company.
It was revealed that Collins, over the course of the 2.5 years, used both the Surrogenesis account and the Michael Charles Independent Financial Holding Group account to fund personal expenditures. She used money to buy new cars, expensive jewelry and clothes, new homes, as well as to pay for vacations. Reports indicate that over the course of the two and a half years that she was operating her fraudulent scheme, Collins managed to misappropriate over two million dollars in funds.
Because of her lofty spending, SurroGenesis soon started having serious financial issues. Surrogate families found that their surrogacy fees were not being paid as expected. As you can imagine, many families were impacted by Collins actions.
Ok, lovely readers, what do you think? Do you think that the justice that was meted out was fair? Do you feel as though restitution should also be paid out to those who were unable to cover the attorney fees? For those of you who have considered surrogacy, does stories like this give you a great deal of hesitation? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.