Thursday, September 1, 2011

Accused serial adoption-seeker gets suspended sentence for police report fraud

A follow up to our story HERE.

A woman accused of repeatedly offering a nonexistent baby for adoption has been granted a suspended sentence and probation after she agreed to plead guilty to charges involving a false sexual abuse report.

Tracy Bess, who turned 26 last week, has been released from jail. She faces two years of probation and could eventually face a six-year prison term if she has further problems with the law during that time.

Polk County District Judge Glenn Pille granted the suspended sentence following a joint recommendation by Bess’ public defender, Polk County prosecutors and an investigator for the Iowa Department of Corrections. Authorities say Bess has acknowledged mental health problems and has shown a desire to deal with them.

“I can’t say, ‘I’m sorry’ enough,” Bess said Monday in response to questions from Pille. “I hurt myself and others. … I left a husband and son, for what? To get some attention?”

“I think the media’s making a big joke of it, like it’s funny,” Bess said. “I hurt a lot of people. I do know it’s wrong.”

Bess, who previously has acknowledged in court that she has been diagnosed with borderline personality and bipolar disorders, was arrested by in May after authorities say she filed a false sexual assault report under the name of Tara Snyder.

Bess, during questioning as part of that investigation, has admitted to police that she also contacted at least 10 prospective parents “but probably more than that” in recent months to discuss giving them an unborn baby that did not exist.

Documents connected to a search warrant for her home say families from Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, among others, made trips to Iowa in an attempt to close an adoption.

The would-be parents reportedly bought gifts and meals for Bess and racked up more than $2,900 in combined expenses that they otherwise would not have incurred.

However, Bess was never charged with any crime related to those incidents because she never demanded money.

Pille’s decision this morning means Bess now carries a felony perjury conviction and a misdemeanor conviction for filing a false report. She is required to pay more than $1,300 in fines and court costs and must comply with “any and all mental health treatment recommendations” suggested by her court-ordered caseworker.

Bess and her family left the courtroom this morning without comment.