42-year-old Alisa Bivens of Gastonia, NC, entered the plea in federal court, according to a Department of Justice release on Wednesday. Bivens admitted conspiring to defraud the United States by paying bribes to foreign officials and submitting fraudulent documents for adoptions from Ethiopia.
Bivens worked for International Adoption Guides Inc., — a South Carolina-based company that handled adoptions of Ethiopian children. Prosecutors say she and other IAG employees would submit fraudulent documents and false adoption contracts signed by orphanages that could not properly give the children up for adoption because those children had never lived in the orphanages.
Three other IAG employees were charged in the scheme back in February. The include the group’s international program director James Harding, executive director Mary Mooney, and an Ethiopian national who ran operations on the ground in Ethiopia. Justice Department officials have not said how many children may have been handled by the agency in Ethiopia.
Prosecutors say Bivens also admitted bribing two Ethiopian officials. The first of these two foreign officials, an audiologist and teacher at a government school, accepted money and other valuables in exchange for providing non-public medical information and social history information for potential adoptees to IAG. The second foreign official, the head of a regional ministry for women’s and children’s affairs, received money and all-expenses-paid travel in exchange for approving IAG’s applications for inter-country adoptions and for ignoring IAG’s failure to maintain a properly licensed adoption facility.
Bivens will be sentenced at a later date.