KC woman could face 22 years in prison for role in adoption scam

A Kansas City woman on Monday admitted her role in scamming 14 couples across the country in a scheme in which she pretended to be pregnant with twins and willing to let others adopt them.

Roxanne Janel Jones, 35, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Kansas to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud as well as aggravated identity theft. She could be sentenced to up to 22 years in prison.

Jones will be sentenced March 12 in a joint hearing with Taj A. Isaiah, who pleaded guilty to a related charge earlier this month. Isaiah posed as Jones’ spouse, boyfriend or landlord during the schemes.

Several couples cheated by the two are expected to travel to Kansas City to testify at the sentencing.

The victims were people looking to adopt children. They included couples in Shawnee, Olathe, Bonner Springs, Leavenworth and Florence, Kan., in addition to others from Massachusetts to California. One victim happened to be a producer for CBS News. The network’s investigation of Jones, who used many aliases, coincided with one by local law enforcement.

In her plea, Jones admitted that she contacted adoption agencies, claimed to be pregnant and sought to meet with couples seeking to adopt. After establishing relationships with the couples, she asked them for money for food, utilities, rent and other expenses. Some of the money was transferred by wire, resulting in the fraud charge.

The identity theft charge stemmed from an instance in which Jones used her own son’s Social Security number.

Some of the couples who were victimized also spent money on plane tickets and hotels and to hire attorneys and adoption agencies.

A Minnesota couple wired $16,265 to an escrow account in Kansas City for Jones’ benefit during her supposed pregnancy, according to the indictment.

A California couple flew to Kansas City and spent money on Jones and Isaiah. The husband told The Kansas City Star that Jones’ acting abilities were “Academy Award-winning good.”