HOUSTON – A federal jury has convicted an international businessman and his
wife of international parental kidnapping, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K.
Patrick and Special Agent in Charge Perrye K. Turner of the FBI. The jury
deliberated for more than two days following a 10-day jury trial before
convicting Carlos Otavio Guimaraes, 67, and Jemima Guimaraes, 66.
parental kidnapping is a terrible crime,” said Patrick. “This jury of 12 heard
heart-wrenching evidence of a father who just wants to see his little boy. I applaud today’s verdict and want everyone to know that
our office will not rest until the mother is back on U.S. soil to face her own
The jury heard that the child’s grandparents helped illegally retain the child
in Brazil away from his father in Houston. The mother and minor child traveled
to Brazil to attend a family event in July 2013, but were supposed to return to
Houston no later than July 20, 2013. The child was never returned to the United
“The FBI is committed to
investigating those who remove or attempt to remove a child from the United
States, or retain a child outside the United States, with the intent to
obstruct another parent's custodial rights,” said Turner.
During trial, the jury heard how the child’s mother allegedly orchestrated
a plan to travel to Brazil for her brother’s wedding via an agreed travel
agreement as part of the pending divorce. While in Brazil, she went to a
Brazilian state court and obtained custody of the minor. From that moment
forward, the father of the child was limited in his ability to visit with his
son. The visits he did have were supervised by a guard hired by the child’s
mother. Currently, despite a Harris County divorce ruling in 2015
favorable to the father, his ability to maintain a relationship with his son
has been incredibly difficult. The child no longer speaks English, and the
father had to learn Portuguese to navigate the Brazilian legal system and
communicate with his son.
The child’s father testified and told the jury that all he ever wanted was
for his son to return to Houston so he could be a constant presence in his
Evidence was also presented which included the fact that the grandparents
support their daughter by providing housing and employment. Additionally, when
the father would visit Brazi, Jemima was present for most of the exchanges of
the child. Video evidence showed both Carlos, Jemima, the hired guard and
their Brazilian attorney at one of the exchanges.
The defense attempted to convince the jury that the Brazilian court rulings
should be respected despite the fact they disregard the father’s position. The
rulings found the United States was not the place to raise a child in the
“egotistical profile of the American family.”
The defense provided an expert on the Hague Convention to testify, but that
expert was unable to give even one example of a child that has been returned
from Brazil when the abducting parent was alive and domiciled in
Brazil. Further, the expert acknowledge the U.S. State Department has
found Brazil to be non-compliant with the provisions of the Hague Convention on
the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction since 2006.
The defense claimed the mother was fleeing from domestic violence, but
evidence failed to support that claim. The jury ultimately found Carlos and
Jemima Guimaraes guilty of international parental kidnapping.
A sentencing date is expected to be set at later date. At that time, the
couple faces up to three years in federal prison.
They were permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.
The child’s mother - Marcelle Guimaraes, 40 - is also charged but remains a
fugitive in Brazil. She is presumed innocent unless and until convicted
through due process of law.
conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sherri L. Zack and
Kimberly Ann Leo are prosecuting the case.
“We thank AUSAs Zack and Leo for
their commitment to bringing justice and a successful conclusion to this unique
case,” said Turner. “Prosecutors generally have no control over the custodial
decisions affecting the child or whether foreign authorities will order the
return of the child.”
If you are a
parent or legal custodian who has been deprived of your child through abduction,
please see the Department of Justice’s International
Parental Kidnapping webpage for more