After more than three years of evading accountability for her actions, Tonya Collins, the mastermind behind the Surrogenesis embezzlement ring, has been indicted by a grand jury on 30 felony accounts. While Collins’ arrest will never remedy the countless lives she destroyed nor will it provide the babies her countless clients dreamed of, perhaps this will allow her victims to begin on the road towards closure. I will have more thoughts once I return to the office (I am speaking at the ABA conference in Miami), but for now here is the Modesto Bee’s news account of the arrest and indictments:
Federal authorities today arrested a woman suspected of defrauding more than $2 million from prospective parents, surrogates and banks in connection with a scheme carried out through her Modesto-based company. A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted Tonya Collins, 36, formerly of Modesto, on seven counts of wire fraud, four counts of mail fraud, nine counts of bank fraud and 10 counts of money laundering, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Sacramento. Collins was arrested at her Antelope home in Sacramento County. The allegations cover November 2006 through March 2009.
Collins’ companies, SurroGenesis and the Michael Charles Independent Financial Holdings Group, are the focus of the federal investigation. SurroGenesis was a surrogate and egg donation agency designed to help people having children through third-party assisted reproduction.
The Michael Charles Independent Financial company purported to be an independent personal property escrow company that would hold clients’ funds in trust and pay out — with the client’s permission — surrogacy fees, medical fees and costs associated with the surrogacy process. Federal prosecutors said Collins allegedly steered SurroGenesis clients to Michael Charles Independent Financial, but concealed her ownership and operation of the escrow company.
The prosecutors said Collins created fictitious employee identities to make it appear that Michael Charles was an independent company with its own staff. The indictment further alleges that Collins used the SurroGenesis and Michael Charles accounts for unauthorized personal purchases, including vehicles, homes, jewelry, clothing, and vacations for herself and others, without the clients’ knowledge.
As a result of Collins’ conduct, SurroGenesis and Michael Charles Independent Financial suffered substantial cash flow problems, prosecutors said, and various surrogate mother fees and related surrogacy expenses were not paid by the companies as required.
If convicted, Collins faces maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine on the mail fraud and wire fraud counts, 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine on the bank fraud counts and 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000 on the money laundering counts.
Read more here: http://www.modbee.com/2012/04/20/2166539/modesto-woman-accused-of-fraud.html#storylink=cpy