News and Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

WEDNESDAY - September 8, 2010

WOMAN SENTENCED FOR MAKING FALSE STATEMENTS

IN CHILD ABDUCTION CASE

RALEIGH - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that in federal court yesterday United States District Judge James C. Dever III, sentenced ROSNAH HASSAN THOMASON, 43, of Four Oaks, North Carolina, to 1 year and 1 day imprisonment followed by three years’ supervised release and restitution to the local law enforcement agency.

A Federal Grand Jury returned a Criminal Indictment on October 8, 2009. On February 8, 2010, THOMASON pled guilty to making material false statements, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001(a)(2).

According to court records and additional information discussed in court today, on May 18, 2008, officers with the Smithfield Police Department responded to a 9-1-1 call reporting the disappearance of a three-year-old child. Officers met with THOMASON who claimed she was the child’s mother and that, while at the Brightleaf Flea Market buying produce, she turned and the child was gone. Officers, along with other search personnel, then conducted an extensive search of the area for the child. Johnston County Sheriff’s Office joined with search and rescue efforts to search for the child alleged to be missing, which included:

∙Approximately 650 acres of land searched by ground searchers;

∙24 miles of water search efforts;

∙Approximately 2,000 acres of area efforts;

∙Use of boats and helicopters; and

∙Over 600 man hours by local law enforcement.

Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation were also called in and, that same day, interviewed THOMASON. Through the investigation it was learned that, on May 12, 2008, THOMASON had booked flights for herself and the child from Raleigh, North Carolina, to Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, for May 17, 2008. A search of THOMASON’s residence also revealed an internet printout on how to report a missing child. The document was printed on May 12, 2008, the same day, THOMASON bought the plane tickets.

On May 19, 2008, THOMASON admitted that she had been dishonest with authorities, claiming that her brother had forced her to turn the child over to him. Law enforcement learned that THOMASON’s brother and the child were on a flight to Japan. They unsuccessfully attempted to direct the plane back to the United States based on THOMASON’s statements. Federal agents met and interviewed THOMASON’s brother in Japan, where he claimed the child was his biological offspring and that THOMASON refused to return the child after a visit with her. Upon review, the passports and related documentation for the child were determined to be legitimate. A subsequent DNA analysis confirmed that THOMASON was not the mother of the child. THOMASON continued to lie to investigating agencies over several days.

During the course of the investigation, dozens of local, state, federal, and international resources were expended. The Amber Alert Network was activated, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children initiated a response, and an international flight was nearly diverted based upon the false information provided by THOMASON.

Mr. Holding commented, We take seriously those that make false reports to the emergency reporting system. The system was put in place for bonafide emergency situations that require medical treatment or police assistance, so that services can be dispatched quickly to those in need of help. When a person reports a false emergency it takes valuable manpower and precious time from those truly in need.”

Investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Smithfield Police Department and the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office. Special thanks to the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office which also contributed resources to the search and rescue efforts. Assistant United States Attorney Banumathi Rangarajan represented the government.

News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.

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