BOISE -- Victims of an egg donation scheme are speaking out after a Boise woman admits she spent thousands of dollars she owed them. 32-year-old Janae Helgerson of Boise faces up to 20 years in prison for what prosecutors say was a scheme to take thousands of dollars that should have gone to egg donors.
Six women donated eggs, weren't paid as promised
Helgerson's victims were from the Midwest, and she was prosecuted in a St. Louis federal court. On Wednesday, Helgerson pleaded guilty to wire fraud.
Helgerson, an egg donation broker, advertised online, and parents she connected with did end up conceiving children through her service. According to court documents, the victims in this case are the women who went through months of procedures to donate their eggs and weren't compensated as promised.
'Four years later and still nothing'
Four years ago, Angie Polete donated eggs to Mid-West Egg Donation, an Idaho based company owned by Helgerson.
"I did all my background research on her, and I checked the better business bureau, I checked everything and everything checked out. Everything," Polete said.
She successfully donated her eggs, a family even had twin girls, but she never got money, nor an explanation.
"It was supposed to be two weeks... here we are at a month, then a month turns into two months, two turns into three, three turns into six, and still here we are today four years later and still nothing," Polete said.
Prosecutor: Helgerson spent the money intended for donors
Polete says she found Helgerson's company online, and she never dealt with Helgerson in person. The company appealed to her because she could donate at a local Missouri hospital.
"Through the internet now, you can really conduct business any place in the United States if you wanted to," Richard Callahan US Attorney said.
Prosecutors say Helgerson never intended to pay donors for their eggs.
"They were told that the money for the eggs was being held in escrow when in fact the defendant had already spent it." Callahan said.
What victim would like to say to Helgerson
After months of court motions and filings, Helgerson pleaded guilty to wire fraud. Polete says she plans to go to the sentencing, and if given the opportunity, has something she'd like to say:
"You just can't get that closure, and just to see her, I would just want to look into the eyes of that baby stealer and be like, you know what, you thought you were going to get away with it. Why on earth would you think that?" Polete said.
While you might think this experience would make Polete bitter. In the last few months, she actually donated again. This time, she helped a family and got her money.
"There are so many legitimate companies out there that really are in it to help people. Janae, she just wasn't one of them," Polete said.
Will the donors get their money? Hard to say
Each of the six victims in this case is owed around $5,000 each. The prosecutor expects paying the victims could be a part of her sentence, such as a term of probation. He says whether victims will actually get that money depends on Helgerson's financial ability to pay.
A federal judge will sentence Helgerson in Saint Louis on March 16th. Until then, she is free on bond, and prosecutors believe she was headed back to Idaho after Wednesday's court appearance.