MISSOULA - A Sanders County man who was convicted of kidnapping his son in violation of a parenting plan and taking him to Costa Rica is heading to prison.
U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich announced that 37-year-old Jacob Israel Strong — aka Jacob Israel Guill — of Heron was sentenced on Thursday, July 27, 2023, to three years in prison, to be followed by one year of supervised release. The court also ordered that $6,948 in restitution be paid.
A jury found Strong guilty of international parental kidnapping following a two-day trial in March.
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The government alleged in court documents and at trial that in January 2020, Strong and his ex-wife entered into a parenting plan for their then two-year-old son as part of a divorce proceeding.
Prior to a court date in August 2021, Strong failed to return their son to his mother as scheduled. The mother was unable to locate Strong and contacted the Sanders County Sheriff’s Office. Law enforcement also was unable to contact Strong.
The Sanders County Attorney’s Office subsequently charged Strong with felony parental interference and a state arrest warrant was issued for Strong.
In September 2021, the FBI opened an investigation to assist Sanders County in the search for Strong and his son. In January 2022, the FBI discovered Strong and the child were living in Costa Rica and learned that Strong and his son left the United States in approximately October 2021, near Midland, Texas. Strong paid a man to transport them to Costa Rica, and Strong and the child lived with the man for about six weeks.
In May 2022, the FBI received specific information about Strong’s whereabouts, and Costa Rica officials arrested and deported him back to the United States. The child’s mother traveled to Costa Rica to take custody of her son and returned with him to the United States.
U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen presided over the sentencing.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy J. Racicot and Brian C. Lowney prosecuted the case. The FBI conducted the investigation.