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Woman sentenced to 100 days in jail, four years probation in adoption fraud

Woman sentenced to 100 days in jail, four years probation in adoption fraud

Adoption fraud case in Tucson

Karla Vargas, left, who pleaded guilty to one count of attempted fraud, with Cindy Cantrell and Vargas’ sister Lucianna Lopez.

A Tucson woman involved in an adoption scam involving a Boston couple was sentenced Tuesday to 100 days in jail and four years probation. 

Pima County Superior Court Judge Casey McGinley told Karla Vargas that after reviewing the case Friday he was prepared to sentence her to prison for a financial crime he said was both unusual and emotionally harmful. 

However, McGinley told the 35-year-old woman he reconsidered because she has had a tragic life, and also because the victims in the case asked that she be spared prison.

He warned her to be careful going forward, to stop lying and "using other people's good will against them."

If she ends up back in his courtroom, "you will have used up all of everyone's good graces."

Cindy Cantrell, a journalist, and her husband, Jack McHugh, a contractor, first connected with Vargas in July 2015 through California-based Adoption Network Law Center.

Vargas, who has had 12 children and a long history of child-welfare issues, kept the births a secret and then tried to get money after the babies were born while pretending to still be pregnant. She admitted to a Tucson police detective that she didn’t want to give up the twins she was carrying and kept it quiet to get money.

Vargas and her sister, Lucianna Lopez, set them up from the beginning, police records say, by telling them Lopez was Vargas’ landlord and exaggerating by $100 per month the amount of the rent due. 

Contact reporter Patty Machelor at or 806-7754. On Twitter: @pattymachstar

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