It should come as no surprise that Tonya Collins has plead not guilty today. That was expected. What I found interesting though was the more than 10,000 pages in discovery that the prosecution has in its possession. It might have taken more than 3 years for Ms. Collins to be arrested, but based upon the voluminous discovery, it certainly looks like the FBI made the most of their time and left no stone unturned:
The owner of a Modesto-based surrogacy agency pleaded not guilty today to charges she bilked would-be parents out of millions of dollars. Tonya Collins, 36, entered the plea in U.S. District Court through her attorney, federal defender Peggy Sasso. Authorities arrested Collins on April 20 at her home in Antelope, in Sacramento County. She was released later that day and remains free on bond.
Authorities say Collins stole more than $2 million from clients who paid money into a trust for surrogacy fees. She also allegedly steered her clients to Michael Charles Independent Financial, which was purported to be a personal property escrow company that would hold clients’ funds in trust and pay out surrogacy fees, medical fees and costs. But Collins owned Michael Charles, which she concealed from clients by creating fictitious employee identities to make it appear it was an independent company with its own staff, prosecutors said.
She also allegedly transferred money from business accounts into her personal bank accounts, using it to pay for cars, homes and vacations for herself and others.
Judge Gary Austin ordered Collins to return to court for a status hearing Aug. 27. The lengthy delay was necessary, Sasso said, because of the number of documents prosecutors are delivering in discovery.
Sasso said she got 8,000 pages Friday, and she understands “a couple thousand more will be provided this Wednesday.” Prosecutor Stanley Boone agreed with the August date.
Austin outlined the consequences Collins could face if convicted of the 30 counts she faces: up to 20 years in 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 $250,000 on the money-laundering counts.
Collins did not respond to questions outside the courthouse.
Read more here: http://www.modbee.com/2012/05/07/2190457/owner-of-modesto-surrogacy-agency.html#storylink=cpy
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