Indians Abroad

Indian American Man Found Guilty of Kidnapping His Son -by Ecork

He will be sentenced this November. (Representation)

New York:

A 38-year-old Indian-American has been charged with international parental kidnapping after she took her US-born child to India and then failed to return the child to the mother in the United States.

Amitkumar Kanubhai Patel from Vadodara, who previously lived in Edison, New Jersey, pleaded guilty last week to one count of international kidnapping following a five-day trial before US District Judge Renee Marie Bumb in Camden federal court in New Jersey.

The international parental kidnapping charge of which Patel stands guilty carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a maximum fine of USD 250,000. He will be sentenced this November.

Patel is a self-employed American citizen who has been living in India. He is accused of denying the parental rights of his child’s mother by abducting the child and failing to return the child to the United States when ordered to do so, US Attorney Philip R Sellinger said Monday.

According to documents filed in the case and testimony at trial, the child’s mother and Patel were in a relationship and lived together in New Jersey from August 2015 through July 2017.

The two were never married. In November 2016, they had a child, born in Edison Township.

According to the child’s mother, Patel wants to take the child to India to show him to Patel’s parents and to undergo a DNA test, which Patel says is necessary for the child to claim the Patel family’s heritage in India.

Patel also told the child’s mother that in order to get an Indian visa for the child, she only needed to secure custody, which required them to go to court.

Patel told the mother to tell the court that they had an understanding between themselves about their child’s care. Patel told the mother to say that she did not have a work permit, and since she was unemployed, she could not take care of her child.

In May 2017, Patel took the child’s mother to the New Jersey Superior Court, Chancery Division Family Court, in order to obtain sole custody of the child.

According to the mother, they were listening in English without a translator. During the hearing, the mother spoke limited English. The mother answered the court’s questions as instructed by Patel and was not represented by a lawyer during the hearing.

The New Jersey Superior Court granted Patel sole legal custody of the child on the order of the child’s mother to the system, but specifically reserved for the mother the ability to file for joint legal custody if she so chooses in the future.

Upon receiving the court’s order, Patel obtained visas to India for himself and the child, and booked air travel, telling the child’s mother that they would be gone for two weeks to a month.

Patel took the child to India in July 2017 and after several days in India, called the mother and said she was not taking the child back to the United States.

The child’s mother obtained legal counsel and returned to New Jersey Superior Court.

In October 2018, the New Jersey Superior Court entered an order directing Patel to return the child to the United States immediately. The mother’s attorney emailed the family court order to Patel, who did not return the child to the United States.

In October 2020, Patel and the child flew from India to the United Kingdom.

Upon arrival, Patel was arrested based on a temporary arrest warrant issued by the United States.

After a detention hearing in London in accordance with the Hague Convention, the London Court ordered that the child be returned to his paternal parents in India. Patel was extradited to the United States in September 2021 from England to stand trial in the case.

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