BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A woman has been returned to the United States from Nicaragua in order to face charges of conspiracy and international parental kidnapping.
Officials say former Virginia resident Lisa Miller, 52, worked with Philip Zodhiates, Kenneth Miller and Timothy Miller to take her and her daughter from the U.S. to Nicaragua. Prosecutors believe she had been living in that country with her daughter since 2009. She recently surrendered to officials at the U.S. Embassy.
According to prosecutors, the kidnapping was an attempt to hinder the parental rights held by Lisa Miller’s former civil union partner. Since the child was born during the civil union, Miller’s former partner had parental rights to the child.
Prosecutors say that when the abduction finally took place, Zodhiates and Miller traveled to Buffalo, where Miller and her daughter crossed the Peace Bridge to Canada. From there, the two flew from Toronto to Nicaragua.
Once they arrived in Nicaragua, Miller and her child were sheltered by people Zodhiates recruited, officials say.
Zodhiates was found guilty of international parental kidnapping and conspiracy to commit international parental kidnapping. He was sentenced to 36 months in prison.
Kenneth Miller, a Mennonite pastor, was convicted of international parental kidnapping and sentenced to 27 months in prison.
After Timothy Miller’s conviction, he was sentenced to time served (eight months) for helping get them to Nicaragua. Prosecutors say Timothy purchased one-way tickets for Lisa and her daughter, and helped them financially once they got to the country.
If Lisa Miller is convicted, she could spend up to five years in prison and pay a $250,000 fine.