We have been following the story of Janae Helgerson and her agency, Mid-West Egg Donation, for more than a year now. Helgerson, who embezzled money belonging to her agency’s egg donors, plead guilty to wire fraud charges last year. Today she was sentenced to four months house arrest and four months in a halfway house for her crimes:
Donors who asked about their money were told the delay was due to “the need to complete additional forms, delays attributable to health care providers, banking errors and misconduct or negligence attributable to the donors themselves,” Helgerson’s her plea agreement says. She also threatened those who complained with legal action.
In all, Helgerson defrauded six egg donors out of $29,964, prosecutors said. In court Friday, Helgerson apologized and said, “I just want to make the whole situation as right as I can.”
Her lawyer, Mark Hammer, asked for probation, saying that she had already paid back roughly $18,000 of the money owed, and would be able to pay back more if not sent to prison. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Albus called Helgerson’s crime a “patently outrageous offense because of what these women went through,” citing the testing and medical process they endured to donate.
But he also asked for probation, along with house arrest or time in a halfway house, so that Helgerson could repay the money. Before passing sentence, U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel let out a long sigh, then said, “It’s not just the money. It’s preying on people’s bests instincts for some of our worst instincts.”
In addition to the probation and other punishment, he ordered Helgerson to do 200 hours of community service. Under federal sentencing guidelines, she faced four to ten months in prison.