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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

Friday, January 18, 2013

Tonawanda Woman Sentenced on International Parental Kidnaping Charges

BUFFALO, N.Y.– U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Jacqueline Bontzolakes, 38, of Tonawanda, N.Y., who was convicted after a jury trial of international parental kidnaping and making a false statement on a passport application, was sentenced to 18 months in prison, by U.S. District Judge Bill Wilson.

According to Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Fauzia K. Mattingly and Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric M. Opanga, who handled the prosecution of the case at trial, Bontzolakes took two minor children out of the country in violation of the custody arrangements set by the Erie County 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 Homeland Security Investigations agents and officials of the Diplomatic Security Service of the U.S. Department of State, Bontzolakes was returned to the U.S. and arrested in Miami, Florida, on March 24, 2010. The two minor
children were located and reunited with their fathers.

"Today's sentence is just punishment for a person who kidnaped her own children and kept them away from the lawful, court designated guardian, in this case their fathers," said U.S. Attorney Hochul. "Such cases are sensitive in nature but must be handled by the proper judicial authorities when, as in this case, circumstances warrant."

The sentencing is the culmination of an investigation on the part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James C. Spero.

Updated November 18, 2014