JACKSONVILLE, FL—U.S. Attorney A. Brian Albritton announces that U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard today sentenced Clifford Allen Newman (age 35, formerly of Jacksonville) to 33 months in federal prison, three months shy of the maximum sentence allowed by law, for international parental kidnapping. Newman had pleaded guilty on May 5, 2009.
Newman kidnapped his son in Jacksonville in July 1996, and took him out of the country, which violated the parental rights of the child's mother. Through the efforts of the FBI, the State Department, and several other agencies, the child was returned to the United States and reunited with his mother in August 2004. Newman was arrested by the FBI on March 19, 2009, when he arrived on a flight that brought him back to the United States from the United Arab Emirates. Newman had just been released from prison in the United Arab Emirates after serving a sentence on an unrelated charge.
According to court documents, a final divorce decree entered in Duval County Circuit Court on March 5, 1996, directed that the child's mother would have primary residential custody and that Newman would have evening, weekend, and summer visitation rights. In addition, the order directed that neither party could remove the child from the State of Florida except upon written notarized consent from the other party. After a summer visitation in July 1996, Newman failed to return the child, then 3 years old, to the child's mother. Some time after July 28, 1996, Newman took the child to the Middle East, in violation of the court order. For several years, the whereabouts of Newman and the child were unknown.
In January 2004, the State Department learned that Newman had crossed an international border into the United Arab Emirates, traveling on his U.S. passport. After Newman was arrested in the UAE on an unrelated charge, law enforcement investigators learned that the child was living with Newman's second wife in Yemen. On July 30, 2004, Yemeni law enforcement officers took custody of the child and subsequently turned him over to his parental grandmother, who had been awarded legal guardianship by a Yemeni court. The child, then 11 years old, was reunited with his mother in the United States on August 3, 2004.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Arnold B. Corsmeier.