TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A father who abducted his then 3-year-old son and took him to Lebanon was sentenced Friday to two years in federal prison.
Ali Hussein Salamey, 40, of Tampa and Dearborn, Michigan, was initially charged with international parental kidnapping, and had pleaded no contest to burglary of an occupied dwelling and interference with child custody.
Prosecutors said Salamey fled to Lebanon with his son Dexter, in violation of his court-ordered visitation rights.
About a month before the kidnapping, authorities said Salamey took the child from his mother, Rachelle Smith’s home without her permission while the boy was with a babysitter, but the child was brought back to Smith.
Salamey, who has dual citizenship, tried to obtain Lebanese citizenship and a passport for his son from the Lebanese Embassy in Washington, D.C., and forged Smith’s signature. The embassy denied his application.
He eventually got a passport from the Lebanese Consulate in Michigan. Authorities said he had forged documents to make it appear he had sole custody of his son.
On Aug. 27, 2018, Salamey picked up his son for what was supposed to be a weekend visit and took him to Beirut. They remained in Lebanon for the next 10 months.
Under the Hague Convention, children who are taken or retained across an international border, must be returned to the country of their habitual residence, so custody issues can be resolved there. Lebanon is not a member of the Hague Convention, but it eventually agreed to help return Dexter to the United States.
The father and son returned to the United States in June 2018, and the child was reunited with his mother.
Salamey was arrested. He pleaded guilty in June to passport fraud and aggravated identity theft.
On Friday, he was sentenced to two years in federal prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office Middle District of Florida announced.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Carlton C. Gammons.