Naturalized US Citizen Guilty of International Parental Kidnapping | USAO-NJ

CAMDEN, NJ – A naturalized US citizen who lived in India was found guilty of interfering with the parental rights of his child’s mother by kidnapping the child and failing to return the child to the United States when he received the order to do so, said U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.

Amitkumar Kanubhai Patel, 38, of Vadodara, India, formerly of Edison, New Jersey, was convicted on July 22, 2022 of one count of international parental kidnapping following a five-day trial before the U.S. District Judge Renée Marie Bumb in Camden Federal Court. .

According to the documents filed in this case and the evidence at trial:

The child’s mother and Patel were in a relationship and resided together in New Jersey from August 2015 to July 2017. The two never married. In November 2016, Patel and the child’s mother welcomed a child, born in Edison Township.

According to the child’s mother, Patel wanted to take the child to India to introduce him to Patel’s parents and get DNA tests, which Patel said was necessary for the child to claim ownership that Patel’s family possessed in India. Patel also told the child’s mother that in order to get an Indian visa for the child, he would have to get sole custody, which required them to go to court. Patel asked the mother to tell the court that they had a mutual custody agreement. Patel asked the mother to declare that she did not have a work permit, and because she was unemployed, she could not take care of her child.

On May 1, 2017, Patel took the child’s mother to New Jersey Superior Court, Chancery Division Family Court, seeking sole custody of the child. According to the mother, the majority of the hearing was conducted in English without an interpreter. At the time of the hearing, the mother spoke limited English. The mother answered questions from the court as she had been instructed by Patel. The mother was not represented by a lawyer at the hearing.

On May 2, 2017, the New Jersey Superior Court awarded Patel sole legal custody of the child based on the child’s mother’s consent to the arrangement, but specifically reserved the mother’s ability to seek joint legal custody if she wished. coming. After receiving the court order, Patel obtained visas to India for himself and the child, and booked a plane trip, telling the child’s mother they would only be gone for two weeks to a month. Patel then took the child to India and after several days in India called the mother and told her he would never bring the child back to the United States. The child’s mother obtained an attorney and returned to New Jersey Superior Court. On October 16, 2018, the New Jersey Superior Court issued an order directing Patel to immediately return the child to the United States.

On October 19, 2018, the mother’s attorney emailed the October 16, 2018 family court order to Patel, which did not return the child to the United States. On October 2, 2020, Patel and the child flew from India to the UK. Upon arrival, Patel was arrested based on a request for provisional arrest submitted by the United States. After a custody hearing in London under the Hague Convention, the London court ordered that it was in the child’s best interests for the child to be returned to his paternal grandparents in India. Patel was then extradited to the United States for trial.

The international parental abduction offense Patel is convicted of carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for November 22, 2022.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited FBI special agents, under Special Agent in Charge Jacqueline McGuire in Philadelphia, with the investigation leading to the guilty verdict. US lawyer Sellinger also thanked members of the department’s Office of International Affairs, the UK Crown Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan Police for their assistance in the extradition.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Carey and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason M. Richardson of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Camden.

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