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Richardton pair face baby-buying charges

A second alleged attempt to illegally purchase a newborn baby in California has landed a Richardton, N.D.-area couple in jail in Los Angeles County. Arnold Michael Friedt, 44, is being held in the Men's Central Jail in Los Angeles, while Carol Fr...

A second alleged attempt to illegally purchase a newborn baby in California has landed a Richardton, N.D.-area couple in jail in Los Angeles County.

Arnold Michael Friedt, 44, is being held in the Men's Central Jail in Los Angeles, while Carol Friedt, 42, is being held in the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood, Calif., after being arraigned Thursday on two "F" felony counts for purchase of custody. Bail for each was set at $700,000.

Los Angeles Police Department Juvenile Division Det. Moses Castillo said Friday morning the Friedts were arrested as part of an undercover operation in which an officer posed as an expectant mother.

A news release issued by the LAPD said the Friedts allegedly attempted to purchase this particular baby for $10,000. The release states the couple arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on May 1, at which time both were taking into custody.

Castillo said this is a unique case even for L.A. law enforcement officials, who were assisted by the Monterey Park Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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"This is the first that I know of in our history," he said. "We had some cooperation with the Stark County Sheriff's Department and the FBI in North Dakota and Los Angeles. Stark County served a search warrant for us."

A search of the Friedt residence took place Wednesday, Stark County Sheriff Clarence Tuhy said. A safe was confiscated but has not yet been opened, he said. California officials would have to obtain a search warrant to open the safe, he said.

The LAPD press release further states Carol Friedt first flew to Los Angeles on March 12 to obtain custody of a baby boy from his 28-year-old mother. Friedt had a makeshift custody contract to gain guardianship of the baby.

When she arrived to pick up the baby at Northridge Hospital, however, she learned the infant had tested positive for drugs and was taken into protective custody by the Department of Children and Family Services.

On March 15, Carol Friedt again tried to gain custody of the baby at a dependency hearing at Children's Court in Monterey Park. She presented herself to the court as a relative of the mother.

The social worker investigating the case discovered Friedt was not a relative but had made arrangements with the mother's baby to purchase the baby for $10,000. Friedt then flew home without that baby.

The entire matter remains under investigation, Castillo said.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled May 10, but Castillo said he expects that court appearance to be continued, as evidence on the case is still being gathered.

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The Dickinson Press and The Forum are both owned by Forum Communications Co.

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