Its about time....Warrant for NANETTE DELP's Arrest!!!
Owner of surrogacy business faces arrest
By Christina Jewett - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PDT Friday, September 29, 2006
Story appeared in MAIN NEWS section, Page A1
A Sacramento surrogacy agency that collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from infertile couples from around the world left at least four pairs childless and the surrogate mothers with unpaid hospital bills, according to court records.
The owner of the agency, called Access to Surrogate Assisted Parenting, has declared bankruptcy and is wanted by authorities on 13 counts of grand theft.
Nanette Lynn Delp, 41, of Sacramento advertised on her Web site that she launched the agency because she herself had been a surrogate mother and "witnessed the joy in the faces of the parents of the baby she carried."
Delp, who is being sought by Sacramento County District Attorney's Office investigators, charged couples from $38,000 to $62,000 to arrange for women to become impregnated, carry and deliver their babies.
The emotional cost to the allegedly jilted families has been great, said Sterling Johnson, a San Rafael attorney who represented four couples who paid at least $40,000 but received no baby.
"It's not about money," Johnson said. "It's about the hope, the trust, the expectations for a family that were yanked away."
Attempts to reach Delp for comment at her home and by phone were unsuccessful.
Craig Kraffert, a Redding dermatologist, said he paid $50,000 to Delp's agency, but ended up with nothing in return.
Kraffert is one of about 50 people -- mostly would-be parents or surrogate mothers -- who lost money when Delp filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, court records show.
Persons who file under Chapter 13 bankruptcy promise to repay as many creditors as possible from available income.
"Would I be more happy with getting $50,000 back or seeing her go to jail?" Kraffert asked. "If I could only have one, I'd rather see her in jail."
Deputy District Attorney Don Steed said investigators have a warrant for Delp's arrest and expect to turn up more victims than the 12 couples and one woman -- all intended parents -- named in a criminal complaint.
Steed said the criminal complaint includes clients who never received infants and others who were simply overcharged.
"We have victims from Italy to Japan to Australia to Finland," Steed said. "We believe there are more out there."
According to Steed, parents hoping to arrange a surrogate pregnancy provided an average of $50,000 for a trust fund, which covers the surrogate mother's medical expenses and her stipend of $18,000.
In some instances, the intended parents' sperm and eggs were used to impregnate the surrogate, but in other cases, just the intended father's sperm was used.
Delp registered her corporation with the state in 2001. Investigators zeroed in on dealings from Jan. 1, 2003, to Dec. 31, 2005.
Court records show that Delp drew on the parents' trust funds to pad her checking account, contrary to initial agreements to hold the money for hospital expenses. She also used the money to buy cars, pay for vacations and home improvements, according to court documents.
Delp filed her $1.5 million bankruptcy case Sept. 12, 2005, listing a $330,000 home, $10,000 worth of Thomas Kinkade paintings and scuba gear as assets.
Meanwhile, some surrogate mothers' medical bills went unpaid, Steed said.
"That requires the surrogate to ask intended parents for more money," Steed said. "It becomes a cycle that is very hard for people."
Denise Rutherford, of Sacramento, is one of the surrogate mothers whom Delp's agency tapped. She delivered a baby in August 2005 for a couple in Sweden.
Rutherford said she felt gratified that she did it -- she gets ecstatic e-mails from the couple with news about the infant.
Still, repeated notices for unpaid medical insurance left her feeling stressed while pregnant.
"I was worried that I would rush to the hospital and they would say 'Sorry, you're not insured,' " she said.
Court records say Rutherford was paid nearly $11,000 from Delp's agency, but expenses for her pregnancy and delivery were closer to $15,000.
The couple who received the baby Rutherford delivered paid $62,000 to the agency, records show.
Rutherford said she knew something was amiss when her calls to the agency went unanswered and monthly meetings among the agency's surrogate mothers abruptly ended early in 2005.
Kathleen Bright, of North Highlands, said she ran the monthly support meetings for Delp's agency. Many of the surrogate mothers complained that they could not get payments, medications or Delp's attention.
"They would be crying -- really, really distraught," Bright said. "They could lose a baby because of how upset they were getting."
Bright, who has twice been a surrogate mother, is listed in Delp's bankruptcy documents as being owed $15,000 for her expenses during a second pregnancy.
She said her own credit is ruined from unpaid hospital bills and items she financed, counting on later receiving her stipend.
San Rafael attorney Johnson said even before the couples encountered Delp, many had faced stress in dealing with their infertility and considered adoption.
"I suspect her clients are rubbed emotionally raw by the time they get to this point -- and they are totally vulnerable," he said.
The legal process provided no relief to his clients, Johnson said. During arbitration for the four cases, he said, Delp invoked her right against self-incrimination when the arbiter asked where the money went.
Elk Grove attorney Glen Van Dyke, who represented Delp in the civil arbitration, said attorney-client privilege prevented him from saying anything about the case. Jason Borg, an Elk Grove attorney who represented Delp in the bankruptcy, did not return calls for comment.
As for Kraffert and his wife, he said they are exploring other options to start a family. Still, he hopes to see Delp held accountable.
"This goes beyond robbing a bank," he said. "This is taking advantage of vulnerable people."