ALLENTOWN, Pa. (CN) – In a federal RICO complaint, five couples say Lancaster, Pa.-based Main Street Adoption Services took tens of thousands of dollars from them in a “bait-and-switch baby” racket, then abruptly went incommunicado.
The 10 prospective parents claim that Main Street took their money, switched babies on them, and/or provided no babies, “where the defendants’ involvement clearly became baby bait and switch programs. The defendants repeatedly provided false information and their unethical behavior, lack of monitoring and misrepresentations induced the plaintiffs into the adoptions. Plaintiffs have been damaged financially and emotionally by the defendants’ illegal activities.”
Many of the adoption fiascoes involved trips to Guatemala. One couple claims they spent $170,000 trying to adopt a child, not including lost wages, but Main Street never managed to complete it.
Another couple says they suffered a similar fate after going to Guatemala.
“Through this scheme, the defendant MS gathered money and requested wired payments for additional unspecified fees with the threat that if these fees aren’t paid, the adoption will cease,” the complaint states.
“Defendants MS, NH [Nina Heller], BM [Bob McClenaghan] and MD [Marcia del Carpio aka Milagro del Carpio] did almost all of their adoption business using the telephone, faxes and/or e-mail. Money was wired to bank accounts using telephone wires.
“Throughout the course of the process, the defendant MS engaged in a series of fraudulent representations designed to induce the continued interest and to gain additional money from the parents.
“The Defendant MS is willing to engage in such brazenly criminal activity given the hyper-sensitive and vulnerable state of people who desperately want to be parents.
“Moreover, the Defendant MS faces little to no threat of civil action by the adoptive parents because of the constant threat of the Defendant MS stopping any adoption that is currently in the system.
“Once the Defendant MS had obtained the money from the prospective parents, the defendant MS abruptly stopped communicating and informed the prospective parents that ‘they are too impatient’ when they ask too many questions regarding the adoption process.”
According to the complaint:
Defendant Nina Heller, of Pennsylvania, “held herself out to be the chief executive officer of MS, its president and a director and an expert in international adoptions;”
Bob McClenaghan, of Pennsylvania, “held himself out to be a director of MS and an expert in international adoptions;”
Del Carpio, of Florida, “held herself out to be an expert in Guatemalan adoptions.”
The plaintiffs seek restitution and damages for RICO conspiracy, fraudulent misrepresentation, conversion, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. They are represented by John Fixel, of Okemos, Miss., and John Tucci Jr., with Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin, of Philadelphia.