A woman who helped actress Angelina Jolie adopt her Cambodian son MADDOX has pleaded guilty to visa fraud and money laundering.

LAURYN GALINDO, 53, of Hawaii and her sister in Seattle, Washington, LYNN Devin, received fees of $10,000 (GBP5,500) or more to arrange adoptions by US residents of children described as orphans - even though many still had parents, according to the documents.

Devin - who pleaded guilty in December (04), but has not yet been sentenced - and Galindo have agreed to surrender all property associated with the crimes, including a home in Hawaii.

The sisters operated an agency called SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL ADOPTIONS, which paired hundreds of children from Cambodia with adoptive parents from 1997 to 2001, when suspicious US immigration authorities halted adoptions from the impoverished south-east Asian country.

The adoption ring - which paid poor women as little as $100 (GBP 55) for their children, according to an attorney - received a total of $93,700 (GBP52,055) for the adoptions cited in the case.

Galindo could face up to 20 years in prison at a sentencing hearing set for September (04).

Prosecutors have said the investigation will not change the status of children adopted through the Seattle adoption agency.

Jolie adopted Maddox last year (03) after meeting him in an orphanage in November 2001.

25/06/2004 02:10