Juan A. Lozano
HOUSTON - A Brazilian couple accused of helping their daughter kidnap their grandson from Texas and keep him in Brazil for the last five years was granted a $3 million cash bond by a federal judge on Friday.
However, Carlos and Jemima Guimaraes will remain jailed as U.S. Magistrate Judge Dena Palermo stayed her order pending a possible appeal of her decision by federal prosecutors, who allege the couple would use their vast wealth to flee the U.S.
Attorneys for Carlos Guimaraes, 67, and his 65-year-old wife, Jemima, said the couple isn't a flight risk and want to have their day in court to prove their innocence.
Rusty Hardin, an attorney for Carlos Guimaraes, said he was pleased the couple had been granted a bond.
Hardin has portrayed the couple as loving grandparents and that the case is a custody matter that belongs in civil and not criminal court. Each has been indicted on two counts — international parental kidnapping and conspiracy. They have pleaded not guilty.
"It's pretty self-evident (prosecutors) were incredibly overstating things that will not be supported by evidence in the trial," Hardin said. The couple's trial has been set for May 7.
It was not immediately known if the couple would be able to post their bond, Hardin said. Each has to pay $1.5 million in cash.
Prosecutors allege the couple has assets of at least $11 million. Carlos Guimaraes is president of ED&F Man Brasil, a commodities trading firm, while his wife owns a young children's school in Brazil.
Palermo, who had delayed her decision on bond after a detention hearing on Wednesday, also ordered several conditions for their release, including electronic monitoring and a curfew.
Angela Dodge, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Houston, declined to comment on the bond decision. Prosecutors could present their possible appeal of Palermo's ruling to the trial judge in the case as soon as Monday.
Prosecutors allege the couple helped their daughter, Marcelle Guimaraes, keep her son in Brazil after she took him there in 2013 and failed to return to the United States, violating a custody order in a divorce case.
Marcelle Guimaraes, who's also been indicted, and her 8-year-old son, Nico, both remain in Brazil.
Authorities said Carlos and Jemima Guimaraes helped their daughter conceal her efforts to keep the boy in Brazil by misleading her ex-husband, Christopher Brann, about her plans.
A Texas judge in 2015 ordered that the boy's primary residence be in Harris County, where Houston is located.
Christopher Brann's attorneys said they are appealing a ruling in 2015 by a Brazilian judge that denied the boy's return to the U.S. under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, an international treaty for governmental co-operation on such cases.
Nico Brann's case is one of several in recent years involving Brazil and the U.S. that have attracted international attention, including the case of Sean Goldman, whose father spent years in American and Brazilian courts before he finally took Sean home to New Jersey in December 2009.
Sean's case prompted a 2014 law that gives the State Department more tools — including the limitation or suspension of economic support — to pressure foreign governments to send home abducted American children.
In its 2017 report on international child abduction, the State Department said that Brazil in 2016 demonstrated a pattern of noncompliance to the Hague Convention child abduction treaty and that the country has been cited as non-compliant since 2005.
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