- Associated Press - Thursday, January 8, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) - The former program director for an adoption agency has pleaded guilty in federal court in South Carolina to conspiring to defraud the U.S. government and paying bribes.

Federal prosecutors said 55-year-old James Harding of Atlanta pleaded guilty Thursday to charges saying he submitted fraudulent documents to the U.S. State Department for adoptions from Ethiopia and for paying bribes. Harding was international program director of International Adoption Guides Inc.

According to prosecutors, Harding admitted that between 2008 and 2009, he and his co-conspirators submitted fraudulent documents to the State Department to secure adoptions of Ethiopian children by U.S. parents. He also admitted that he and others paid bribes to two Ethiopian officials so that those officials would help with the fraudulent adoptions.

Harding faces a sentencing hearing yet to be scheduled.

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