GARDEN GROVE (CBSLA.com) — One of the victims swindled by the owner of an egg-donation and surrogacy agency in Glendora spoke out about her ordeal.
Bethany Torres, 30, has been a surrogate mother twice. In 2011, she signed up with Miracles Egg Donation that provided egg-donation and surrogacy services.
The agency’s owner Allison Layton, 38, agreed to pay Torres $25,000 for carrying twin boys for an Australian couple plus other amounts for medical expenses, breast milk and lost wages. After a few months, the payments stopped coming, said Torres.
She said she received only $19,000 of the $50,000 she was owed and soon found out that the FBI was investigating Layton for defrauding other surrogates, egg donors, would-be parents and investors.
“I had to take time off work. You never think that something like this could happen,” she said.
According to court documents, Layton spent $60,000 of her clients’ money to pay for her lavish wedding.
As part of a plea deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, she pleaded guilty. On Monday, a judge sentenced Layton to 18 months in federal prison and three years probation for cheating more than 40 of her clients out of more than $270,000.
Torres said: “She should be ashamed of herself that she’s a horrible person.” Torres does not think the punishment fits the crime. “For the amount of money that she stole and the lives that she destroyed, a year and a half is nothing. But it is something.”
Despite the stress and sickness she suffered, Torres is happy that she was able to help the couple who is now raising twin boys. “They have a family. They have something they wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t had done this,” Torres said. She hopes to get some of the money owed to her.
Layton’s restitution hearing is scheduled for Oct. 22.