A 51-year-old man has pleaded guilty to international parental kidnapping weeks after his brother did the same, for the same charge, for illicitly taking their juvenile sons on a worldwide trek, a federal prosecutor’s office announced Friday.
John Silah, a citizen of Syria, pleaded guilty on Tuesday in a federal court in California for taking his son, Greg, out of the United States for two years without the consent of the boy’s custodial mother, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Central California said in a press release. He is set to be sentenced August 6 by U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright.
His brother George Silah, who pleaded guilty February 21 for the parental kidnapping of two of his own sons, will be sentenced on May 29. The maximum sentence for a conviction on the charge is three years.
George and John Silah were both divorced from their respective wives in July 2008 and had partial custody of their sons, who were then between the ages of 11 and 14 and lived in the Los Angeles area.
The boys were supposed to take a Disney cruise with their fathers at that time, but they never made it, the boys’ families said on websites dedicated to their return.
Those websites contained messages of love and hope for their safe return directed almost every month at the then-missing children. Greg’s mother, Christine Stackhouse, wrote her last post on gregsilah.com on October 16, 2010, titled “Missing you this Halloween.”
“Greg, we will be missing you this Halloween and we hope that next year you will be with us so we can all go trick-or-treating and collect lots of candy just like the old times!”
A November 5, 2010, post on silahboys.blogspot.com announced that the boys had been found and their fathers taken into custody in the Netherlands.
It was the last stop on a two-year journey in which the Silah brothers and their sons traveled through Mexico, Central America and Europe, where investigators eventually caught up with them.
The boys’ mothers flew to the Netherlands in 2010 to reunite with them, while the Silah brothers were detained at the request of U.S. authorities. George Silah — a naturalized citizen of the United States — returned to the United States in October 2011, while John Silah was extradited in March of this year.
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