Charges against adoption agency head

February 4, 2009 6:13:33 PM PST
Alleged victims of an international adoption scam are reacting to a major development in the case. The owner of an agency has been hit with dozens of felony charges.The Eyewitness News Investigators first broke the story last fall of an International adoption agency accused of scamming hopeful parents all over the U.S.

The owner, headquartered in California, disappeared during our investigation. And now, authorities have issued a fugitive arrest warrant for him.

Sarah Wallace has the exclusive story.

A fugitive warrant and dozens of felony charges have now been filed by California authorities against the owner of an international adoption agency called Adoption International Program. California is where the agency was headquartered, but we've spoken with alleged victims in states all over the country, including right here.

"There are no words, it has been horrible," Dawn Delorenzo said.

Delorenzo still can't bring herself to take down the lovingly decorated nursery in her Woodbridge, New Jersey home, even though she and her husband have given up their dream of adopting a child.

The nightmare of loving, and then losing, three different baby boys has left them too emotionally and financially drained.

"Ran out of energy, ran out of money," she said. "Ran out of confidence and faith and hope that this was going to go through."

And their story of heartbreak is not isolated. The Santa Barbara District Attorney's Office has now filed 62 felony counts, one for each alleged victim, against Orson Mozes. Until last June, when Mozes disappeared, he ran an Internet-based agency for foreign adoptions called Adoption International Program, headquartered in California.

"There is satisfaction that he will not do this to anybody else," Delorenzo said.

It is tragically ironic that the Delorenzo's story of personal anguish helped bring Mozes' empire down. The couple says they spent months in Kazakstan, with Mozes promising them three different children who all suddenly became unavailable.

The hardest part, she said, was "having lost three children and coming home with none."

Dawn had started writing a blog in Kazakstan, and other adoptive parents began sharing their similar stories. First, they shared with her. Then, with us. We spoke to families around the country, including Angela and Rory Klein of Staten Island, who say they were also promised a baby.

"He said the child was no longer available," Angela said. "He never told us what happened with the child."

The Klein's only learned recently, as we did, that Mozes had promised that same baby to two other families in the U.S., including a Texas couple. In an affidavit for Mozes' arrest, an investigator says the same scenario happened on at least 10 different occasions, and that Mozes took in more than a million dollars with his alleged baby bait-and-switch scheme.

"If he could sell this child several times and make money, he was going to do it," Angela said. "And he obviously did it."

Some of the families, like the Klein's, did adopt other children, and they're thrilled. But the DA's investigation found the majority, like the Delorenzo's, came home with no child.

"We reached out, on both ends, to our government officials and to the Kazakstan government," Dawn said. "And nobody helped us."

By the time we tried to track down Mozes last summer, he had already bolted from his multi-million-dollar Santa Barbara estate. Investigators want him extradited if he's fled the U.S., as suspected.

"I don't know where he is, but he can't hide forever," Angela said. "You can only hope that enough people get to see his face and someone is going to find out who he is and expose him."

The clients we spoke with never met Mozes, as he did all of his business almost exclusively by phone or E-mail. But in the end, that may help investigators. When Mozes is found, bail will be set at $1 million.