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Post: Woman Sells Children For $175 And A Cockatoo

Posted by AP on 2/25/10

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    NEW ORLEANS -- A Louisiana woman has pleaded guilty to
    selling two children for a cockatoo and $175 in what her
    attorney called an attempt to do a good thing that went

    "It was a really clumsy attempt at an adoption
    proceeding," said Steve Sikich, attorney for Donna Louise
    Greenwell of Pitkin. "She was trying to help the children
    and get them situated."

    Greenwell, 53, was sentenced Monday to 15 months of hard
    labor on each of two criminal counts: sale of a minor. The
    sentences are to run concurrently.

    The case centered on a 5-year-old boy and a 4-year-old
    girl in Greenwell's custody.

    Investigators said she called Paul J. Romero, 46, and
    Brandy Lynn Romero, 27, of Evangeline Parish early last
    year after seeing a flyer they posted offering a cockatoo
    for sale, and offered to deliver the children for about
    $2,000. When the Romeros said they could not afford that,
    a deal was stuck for the bird, valued at $1,500, plus cash.

    Greenwell had custody of the children for more than a year
    before meeting the Romeros, Sikich said. Her lawyers have
    maintained she was just trying to find a better home for

    "They were undernourished and not well taken care of,"
    Sikich said. "It's my understanding that the mother had
    requested that she take care of the kids."

    Another lawyer for Greenwell had said previously that the
    children were "abandoned to her care."

    Neither the children's mother or father could be located,
    Sikich said.

    The $175 was to cover the cost of an attorney to transfer
    custody of the children to the Romeros, Sikich said. The
    cockatoo was a gift to Greenwell's granddaughter, he said.

    Greenwell's sentences were part of a plea deal worked out
    with the Evangeline Parish District Attorney's office.

    Sikich said Greenwell could have faced up to 10 years on
    each count and another 20 years as a habitual offender.
    The district attorney agreed not to file charges against
    Greenwell as a habitual offender as part of the plea
    bargain, Sikich said.

    "She did not have a good attorney for two previous counts,
    which left her with a record she didn't really deserve,"
    he said. He said the charges were for issuing worthless
    checks and second-degree battery.

    The Romeros, of Eunice, pleaded guilty to two felony
    counts of sale of a minor child, the district attorney
    said in an earlier statement. Their five-year prison
    sentences were suspended in exchange for their testimony
    against Greenwell, the statement said.

    The district attorney's office did not return repeated
    calls Tuesday for comment.

    Greenwell will begin serving her sentence on March 25.

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  • Woman Sells Children For $175 And A Cockatoo, 2/25/10, by AP.