VILLE PLATTE, La. – A Louisiana couple admitted giving an exotic bird to a woman in exchange for two children, a district attorney said Wednesday.
Paul and Brandy Romero, of Eunice, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of sale of a minor child, Evangeline Parish District Attorney Trent Brignac's office said in a statement. Their five-year prison sentences were suspended in exchange for their testimony against the woman accused of handing over the children, Donna Greenwell of Glenmora, the statement said.
The Romeros traded their cockatoo and $175 for the children in February. Greenwell is not their mother, but the children were living with her. Prosecutors say she "instigated" the transfer when she responded to the Romeros' advertisement for sale of the bird.
Greenwell, who is free on bond, has pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of sale of minor children. Her trial is set for November.
Greenwell's lawyer, Steve Sikich, has said previously that there was no swap involved and that Greenwell was trying to find a suitable home for the children. He did not immediately return a call for comment on Wednesday's guilty pleas.
The DAs' statement said Paul Romero, 46, and 28-year-old Brandy were unable to have children and "unaware of the exact legal requirements for transferring custody of minor children. The couple maintains they were simply trying to provide a home for two children that were unwanted by Greenwell."
Authorities initially thought Greenwell had kidnapped the children, but then learned that the biological parents were aware they were living with Greenwell.