An upstate New York woman, who was convicted after a jury trial of international parental kidnapping and making a false statement on a passport application, was sentenced to 18 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Bill Wilson. The sentence is the result of an extensive investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Jacqueline Bontzolakes, 38, of Tonawanda, N.Y., took two minor children out of the country in violation of the custody arrangements set by the Erie County (N.Y.) Family Court and without the knowledge or permission of their fathers.
The defendant also concealed the identity of the father of one of the minor children in applying for a passport for that child. Through the efforts of HSI special agents and officials of U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, Bontzolakes was returned to the U.S. and arrested in Miami March 24, 2010. The two minor children were located and reunited with their fathers.
“Today’s sentence is just punishment for a person who kidnapped her own children and kept them away from the lawful, court designated guardian, in this case their fathers,” said U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr., Western District of New York. “Such cases are sensitive in nature but must be handled by the proper judicial authorities when, as in this case, circumstances warrant.”
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Fauzia K. Mattingly and Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric M. Opanga, Western District of New York, prosecuted this case on behalf of the U.S. government.