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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Former Pitt Professor Sentenced to Time Served after Admitting She Kidnapped Her Daughter and Took Her to Canada

Defendant will be deported to Austria

PITTSBURGH, PA – A resident of Pittsburgh pleaded guilty to one count of international parental kidnapping and was sentenced in federal court to "time served," having been imprisoned for 25 months, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

United States District Judge Cathy Bissoon imposed the sentence on Marike Vuga, 48, a citizen of Austria and a former professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Judge Bissoon also ordered that Vuga be removed from the United States and returned to Austria. She remains detained pending removal by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

According to information presented to the court, Vuga, on March 16, 2016, traveled from the United States to Canada with her child, contrary to a custody order in place since November 2010, and without the permission of the child’s father. She crossed the border in northern Maine at the New Brunswick, Canada border crossing, using false identification for her child, and then traveled to Ottawa and endeavored unsuccessfully to obtain Austrian travel documents for her child, who was born in the United States and was a U.S. citizen. From March 18, 2016 through April 8, 2016, Vuga and her child stayed at a bed & breakfast located in Ottawa, evading law enforcement authorities. The owner of the establishment became suspicious of her behavior, and learned through a search on the Internet that there was an outstanding arrest warrant for Vuga, issued in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and immediately contacted the Ottawa Police Service. Officers confirmed her identity through surveillance and affected her arrest on April 8, 2016. Vuga was thereafter extradited to the United States.

Assistant United States Attorney Carolyn J. Bloch prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

United States Attorney Brady commended the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security Investigations, and the Allegheny County Police Department for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Vuga.

Updated May 9, 2018