Mary Mooney, the former executive director of International Adoption Guides (IAG) indicted by the Justice Department for fraud and corruption in Ethiopian adoptions and who pled guilty in January, has recently asked the judge to change her plea from guilty to innocent.
Alisa Bivens and Jim Harding, the other two IAG staff people also indicted by the Justice Department, pled guilty last year. None of them has been sentenced yet. There will now be a delay in their sentencing pending the outcome of the judge’s decision as to whether Mooney can change her plea. It is unclear when the judge will rule on Mooney’s request, but it probably won’t happen until sometime this summer.
As far as I know, the fourth person indicted, an Ethiopian citizen apparently now living in Ethiopia, has not been arrested.
I am not a lawyer, and I have no inside information about this. Defendants can indeed change their plea, and will do so for various reasons: new evidence is uncovered, they want to have a trial, the lawyer didn’t provide adequate information about the plea, the deal worked out with the judge and prosecution under the guilty plea was unacceptable to the defendant, or some other reason. I don’t know if making this request six months after pleading guilty will have an effect on the judge’s decision.
If the judge allows Mooney to change her plea to innocent, the whole legal process starts again. She could then go to trial, or there could be a deal worked out between the defense and the prosecution to which the judge must agree.
I don’t know how much this has cost the Justice Department for years of gathering evidence for the indictment, nor how much has been spent for the legal process of the three current defendants.
I do know this is one more level of heartache for the families who adopted from International Adoption Guides.