Mom in baby adoption scheme arrested after absconding from probation


Marina Francine Garcia | U.S. Army Sgt. Stephen Garcia and baby

A former Sierra Vista woman who absconded from probation nearly one year ago after admitting she falsified her infant son’s birth certificate in a failed adoption scheme will be spending Christmas in the Cochise County jail after being taken into custody last week.

Marina Francine Garcia was sentenced in WHEN 2018 to 120 days in jail and placed her on probation for five years for her role in the scheme. She moved without informing her probation officer after which a nationwide warrant was issued in January 2019 for her arrest.

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Garcia, 33, evaded capture until Dec. 20 when she was taken into custody in Cochise County. She is slated to remain in jail until a judge decides whether Garcia will be reinstated to probation or sent to prison for up to 3.5 years.

Court records show Garcia gave birth to a healthy boy in February 2018 and a few days later she allowed a longtime friend’s husband to sign the birth certificate even though the Texas man wasn’t the father. She then planned to sever her maternal rights so the “father’s” wife could adopt the boy, who later became known as Baby Leo.

The adoption scheme was foiled when the Texas couple acted suspiciously during a routine traffic stop near Willcox on their way back home with the baby.

At the time she gave birth, Garcia was married to Stephen Garcia, a U.S. Army Sgt. stationed in South Korea. Sgt. Garcia had been told by his wife that the baby died but he took emergency military leave to return to Cochise County when he learned the baby was alive.

Stephen Garcia was granted full custody of Baby Leo after the couple’s divorce even though tests revealed the sergeant was not the boy’s biological father. The state was also ordered to issue a new birth certificate with Stephen Garcia listed as the father. The biological father has not been identified, according to court documents.

The Texas couple who intended to raise Garcia’s son as their own were placed on probation after entering into plea deals with the Cochise County Attorney’s Office. Despite initial news reports, there was no evidence that they intended to pay Garcia for the baby or knew Sgt. Garcia was lied to about the baby’s fate.