Man pleads guilty in adoption scam

A Kansas City man could not explain to a federal judge Tuesday why he participated in an adoption scam that affected more than a dozen hopeful couples across the country.

But Taj A. Isaiah, 29, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and could be sentenced to 20 years in prison, although sentencing guidelines appear to call for 30 to 57 months without parole.

Isaiah admitted that he pretended at various times to be the boyfriend, husband or landlord of Roxanne Janel Jones, 35, of Kansas City, who is accused of pretending to be pregnant with twins and persuading prospective adoptive parents to give her money, food and other things. Isaiah acknowledged an indictment that spelled out his supporting role in the events from June 2009 to March 2011.

Assistant U.S. Attorney D. Christopher Oakley asked U.S. District Judge Kathryn H. Vratil to schedule a joint sentencing date for Isaiah and Jones because he anticipates that several of the people who thought they were going to be able to adopt the babies will wish to travel here and testify during the hearing. Barry R. Grissom, U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas, said later that the government is in discussions with Jones’ counsel about a plea but that an agreement has not been finalized.

Isaiah had also been indicted on four counts of wire fraud but those were dismissed by the government as part of his plea agreement. Jones is indicted on the same charges of conspiracy and wire fraud as well as three counts of mail fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.

After Oakley outlined the government’s case, Vratil asked Isaiah how he and Jones came up with the idea for the scam.

“It wasn’t my idea,” Isaiah replied.

The judge asked why he went along with it.

“I really couldn’t tell you,” he said.

Isaiah remains free on bond until his sentencing. Jones is in federal custody.

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