PORTLAND – Police continued searching late Monday night for a Westbrook woman who was serving a jail sentence for running an adoption scam that involved couples in New Jersey and California.

Misty Sargent, 25, who was sentenced in March to nine months in the Cumberland County Jail, walked away from her work release assignment at Goodwill Industries of Maine on Monday afternoon, the county sheriff’s office said.

She went outdoors for a breath of fresh air around 1:30 p.m. and didn’t return, according to the sheriff’s office.

Sargent had been working at Goodwill’s facility on Diamond Street in Portland for five days. She was scheduled to be released in November.

Her supervisor immediately contacted the sheriff’s department. Deputies and Portland police searched for Sargent through Monday night.

In an agreement with prosecutors, Sargent admitted to two counts of felony theft. Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Norbet said Sargent had promised to give her unborn baby to three couples, including one represented by an adoption agency.

Sargent accepted as much as $10,000 in financial support from the couples, then gave the baby to a couple in New York who had adopted a child from Sargent a few years earlier, Norbert said in an interview with The Portland Press Herald.

Sargent was indicted on a felony theft charge in July 2009, when she was 24 and the baby was 2 months old.

Prosecutors added a second charge in February, saying Sargent had violated an agreement that prevented her from subleasing her apartment in Westbrook. They claim she took money from people at a time when she was being evicted.

Lt. Arthur Monson of the Cumberland County Jail could not say why she was placed in an inmate work release program.

He said that, in general, inmates selected for the program are considered to be nonviolent and low-risk. Sargent is not considered to be dangerous.

She is described as 5 feet 4 inches tall and 180 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.

Her last known address was 244 Forest St. in Westbrook.

Anyone with information concerning Sargent’s whereabouts should call Detective Gerard Brady at 774-1444, extension 2159, or (800) 266-1444.

 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]