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Former director of Strongsville-based adoption agency pleads guilty to fraudulent adoption scheme

Posted at 6:49 PM, Feb 04, 2022

STRONGSVILLE, Ohio — The former executive director of the Strongsville-based European Adoption Consultants, an international adoption agency, pleaded guilty to defrauding United States and Polish authorities in connection with the adoption of a Polish child, according to the United States Department of Justice.

Margaret Cole, 74, of Strongsville, admitted to conspiring with Debra Parris and others after learning clients of the adoption agency decided they could not care for one of the two Polish children they were set to adopt, and worked to transfer the child to Parris' relatives, who were not eligible for intercountry adoption.

According to authorities, Cole, Parris and others defrauded U.S. authorities in order to hide the transfer of the child and said following the adoption, the child was injured and hospitalized while living with Parris' relatives. At that time, Cole allegedly gave a false statement to the Polish authority responsible for intercountry adoptions and worked to conceal the conspiracy with Parris and others.

On Friday, Cole pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and making a false statement to a Polish authority.

Cole is scheduled to be sentenced on May 27.

Meanwhile, Parris had previously pleaded guilty to defraud the United States in connection with the Poland scheme and conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act and commit visa fraud while fraudulently procuring adoptions of children from Uganda through bribery tactics to Ugandan officials.

Cole and Parris' charges are just some of the problematic findings within European Adoption Consultants, which was found to have connections with child abuse, soliciting bribes, falsifying documents and adopting trafficked children.

The United States Department of Justice asks that anyone who believes they are a victim of the offenses stemming from the Strongsville-based European Adoption Consultants to call 1-888-549-3945 or click here.


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