MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

July 25, 2013

Witnesses speak in adoption scam

Sentencing delayed in case involving local woman

By Wendy Burton
Phoenix Staff Writer

— A Muskogee woman who pleaded guilty to wire fraud in multiple adoption scams was not sentenced Thursday as planned.

Davanna Dotson, 22, pleaded guilty in December to 22 counts of wire fraud in U.S. District Court.

Citing a personal issue that arose Thursday and a legal issue in the case that needed to be addressed, U.S. District Judge Ronald White announced Dotson would not be sentenced until a later date.

“I know you’ve been waiting some time for closure, and I’m sorry I can’t do that for you today,” White said to the witnesses who remained in the courtroom at the end of the day.

Those witnesses, all from other states, included the manager of a bank, a collegiate softball coach, a business owner, and a television producer. They testified Dotson tricked them out of money between 2009 and 2012.

Each also testified about the anguish Dotson caused them when they discovered she was not giving them a baby to adopt.

“It took my heart out and crushed it again,” said Mark Monnette of Ohio on the witness stand, who said a previous adoption attempt went terribly wrong for the couple.

Monnette said he and his wife were introduced to Dotson by an attorney who handled adoptions.

Dotson told the couple she had a baby girl just a few weeks old, she was originally from Ohio, and needed to get back home to place her child with them, he said.

Monnette said he and his wife sent a total of $1,000 to Dotson in three installments for traveling expenses, diapers, formula and a car seat.

When the couple realized Dotson was not traveling to Ohio and had no baby to give them, they were devastated, Monnette said.

Each of Thursday’s witnesses who testified they were scammed out of money by Dotson told nearly the same story.

Victims who testified came from Alabama, Virginia, Ohio and Kansas. Each said they were desperate to adopt a child.

Each testified they and Dotson were introduced through an attorney. And each testified Dotson claimed to be from the same town they lived in and wanted help to get home, where she would let them adopt her baby.

Dotson also faces charges in Muskogee County District Court, according to court records.

She was first charged in September 2011 with eight counts of obtaining money by false pretenses.

A year later, after bonding out of jail on those charges, Dotson was arrested and charged for allegedly running the same scam again.

Dotson returns to court for her preliminary hearing in the 2012 case, in which Monnette and his wife are the alleged victims.

Her jury trial in the 2011 case is set to begin July 30.

The statutory range of punishment for Dotson’s federal charge is up to 20 years imprisonment and/or up to a $250,000 fine.

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.