A district judge in Pennsylvania reportedly has set bail at $1 million for the woman at the center of an alleged abduction hoax after authorities transported her from Florida to her home state to face charges.
Bonnie Sweeten's preliminary arraignment in Richboro, Pa., this evening on misdemeanor identity theft and false reporting charges came after her arrest at an Orlando, Fla., hotel room Wednesday.
The Philadelphia-area judge said he set the bail because he considered Sweeten, 38, a flight risk, the Associated Press reported. Her attorney said she was not a flight risk.
Authorities allege Sweeten called 911 Tuesday and falsely claimed she and her daughter, Julia Rakoczy, 9, were carjacked after a minor traffic accident in Upper Southampton Township, Pa., and stuffed into their car trunk.
But as officials followed up on the alleged emergency in Bucks County, Pa., they believe Sweeten actually was traveling with her daughter to Disney World under the name of a former co-worker. Police claim Sweeten drained several bank accounts and took the former co-worker's driver's license before boarding an Orlando-bound flight.
Sweeten waived her extradition rights at a hearing in Orlando this morning and agreed to face charges in Pennsylvania.
Sweeten can be released if she posts $100,000, or 10 percent of her bail amount, the AP reported.
Today's hearing was a preliminary arraignment. Sweeten's formal arraignment is expected to come within a month or two, and be heard by a common pleas judge in Doylestown, Pa.
Sweeten's husband, Larry Sweeten, said he is wondering if his wife's erratic behavior can be traced to fertility treatments she has been receiving.
He said his wife has been emotional since receiving in-vitro fertilization treatment. The treatment led to the birth of Sweeten's now 8-month-old baby.
"I know when you do in-vitro, you take hormone shots and it messes with her, messed with her extremely," Sweeten said Thursday.
But fertility experts say the chances are slim that the fertility treatments that Bonnie Sweeten likely received roughly 17 months ago, given the age of her child, had anything to do with her actions.
"I am not familiar with any psychosis associated with IVF treatment," said Dr. William Gibbons, director of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He added that though he could not say conclusively that such a connection would be impossible, the link "would seem to be a reach" as after 17 months "the effects of the IVF should be long gone."
Dr. James Goldfarb, Director of Infertility Services at the Cleveland Clinic Health Systems in Cleveland, Ohio, agreed. "The hormones would be extremely unlikely to cause this type of behavior, even while [Sweeten was] actually on the hormones," he said. "The hormones would not have any direct long term emotional effects."
To those who know Sweeten, the alleged actions seem out of character.
"I think it is terrible, but there has got to be a reason. She was kind and generous," said Lydia Demetrio.
Sweeten's ex-husband , Anthony Rakoczy, was reunited with his daughter Julia Thursday afternoon at an Orlando police station.