Woman Charged With Selling Babies of Hungarian Citizens
Jun. 24, 1996
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) _ A woman was jailed on charges alleging she brought as many as 30 pregnant women from Hungary and sold their babies to adoptive parents for up to $80,000 each.
Marianne Gati, 48, was arrested by federal agents working with Hungarian National Police.
Gati is suspected of making $20,000 profit on each adoption since 1994, said Kenneth Hines, an agent of the Internal Revenue Service.
Gati, who remained jailed pending a hearing on Wednesday, maintains that she operated ``a legitimate adoption consulting agency,'' said her lawyer, Federal Public Defender H. Dean Steward.
``I'm going to prove it's not true,'' Gati said in an appearance before a magistrate.
According to a criminal complaint, Gati and an unidentified Hungarian associate provided airline tickets and other documents for the women to fly to California, where they were put up in a house near Gati's home in Irvine.
Gati promised to pay each mother ``$1,000 for a baby with dark features and $12,000 for a baby with light features,'' the complaint alleged. It accuses her of money laundering, tax fraud, harboring illegal immigrants unlawfully and conspiracy.
A manager at a Mail Boxes Etc. branch in Irvine said Gati once received a fax ``in which someone demanded the return of $80,000 because they had not received a child in the course of an adoption,'' Hines said.
Gati, also known as Maria Rozsa, was identified as a Hungarian-born citizen of Canada. She was arrested Friday.
Irvine police learned of the alleged baby-selling operation in December, according to a search-warrant affidavit filed by Hines.
Hines said Gati opened a bank account Thursday with two cashier's checks totaling $65,041, and had another bank account containing $427,000, although tax records show she and her husband claimed a combined income of no more than $60,000 a year.
Her husband, Thomas, is an engineer, he said.