Owner of San Gabriel Valley Surrogacy Agency Sentenced to Federal Prison for Ripping Off Would-Be Parents Who Paid for Egg Donations
LOS ANGELES—The owner of a Glendora egg donation and surrogacy company who admitted defrauding would-be parents, egg donors and surrogate mothers over the course of more than three years was sentenced this morning to 18 months in federal prison.
Allison Layton, a 38-year-old resident of Star, Idaho, was sentenced by United States District Court Judge George H. Wu, who ordered that the defendant serve three years of supervised released after completing the prison term.
Layton, who owned and operated Miracles Egg Donation and sometimes used the name Allison Jarvie, lived in Glendora during the course of the scheme.
Between August 2008 and January 2012, would-be parents—who in the surrogacy and egg donation world are known as intended parents—paid tens of thousands of dollars for egg donation and surrogacy services that Miracles promised to coordinate. Layton took money from the intended parents, but, instead of putting the funds into escrow accounts to be withdrawn only for certain costs related to the surrogacy or egg donation, Layton used the money for her own personal expenses (including a wedding that cost $60,000 and other costs that supported a lavish lifestyle) or to cover unpaid costs related to other clients. When confronted by victims, Layton lied about why payments had not been made and refunds not issued and strung victims along, leading them to believe they might soon be paid, when, in fact, many were not.
As a result of Layton’s misappropriation of client funds, egg donors, surrogates, attorneys and others often were not paid for all the services they provided and intended parents often did not receive all the services for which they had paid. At least one investor in Miracles also lost money.
When the donors, surrogates and intended parents sought to recover their money and costs, Layton would lull them into believing they would be repaid through false assurances that payments had already been made or would be made soon.
As a result of the fraud scheme, more than 40 victims lost more than $270,000. Judge Wu scheduled a restitution hearing for October 22.
Layton “took advantage of dozens of individuals at a time when they were particularly vulnerable: when they were working to conceive,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo filed with the court. “In light of the significant harm she caused—in some cases, effectively preventing victims from ever having children—and the risk she still poses to the community, a significant custodial sentence is warranted.”
Three victims spoke at this morning’s hearing, including a couple who said that Layton’s fraud denied them the chance of ever having children.
The investigation into Layton was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.