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Former US Adoption Agency Head Admits Scheme

FILE - A pair of sisters adopted in Ethiopia hold flags as they listen to the singing of the national anthem at an adoption day ceremony in New York, Nov. 18, 2010.

The former head of a U.S. adoption agency pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to charges of arranging phony adoptions from Ethiopia with the aim of defrauding the U.S. government.

James Harding, who was an official with International Adoption Guides, admitted defrauding the U.S. State Department by submitting false adoption papers for Ethiopian children along with their visa applications.

The papers included contracts signed by orphanages for children who never lived at the facilities.

Harding also admitted paying bribes to two Ethiopian officials for their help with the scheme.

Harding will be sentenced at a later date.

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