Mom In Disney World Kidnap Hoax Gets Nine to 23 Months

Bonnie Sweeten handed prison time for faking abduction that sparked search.

August 27, 2009, 9:45 PM

Aug. 27, 2009 -- Suburban Philadelphia mom Bonnie Sweeten was sentenced to nine to 23 months in prison for filing a false kidnapping report and then fleeing to Disney World with her daughter to avoid arrest.

Sweeten, 38, called 911 and told operators that she had been carjacked by two black men. Her call led to a national search that involved everyone from the FBI to Disney World security and led to a public outcry when it was revealed to be a hoax.

The PTA mom and paralegal was being investigated for financial misdeeds, including the possible theft of $280,000 from her ex-husband's grandfather. She and her second husband, Larry Sweeten, had spent a small fortune on fertility treatments.

Sweeten had been putting off her ex's family for months, but under threat of prosecution she finally had forked over a six-figure check, District Attorney Michelle Henry told the Associated Press.

On the day that her check bounced, Sweeten vanished with daughter. She was located at Disney World two days later.

Despite pleading guilty in a Bucks County, Pa., court to identity theft and filing a false police report, both misdemeanors, the judge handed down a harsher sentence.

"Your wants, your needs, your wishes and desires came before everybody," Judge Jeffrey L. Finley said.

He called Sweeten "a calculating, manipulative, hardhearted woman" and berated her for further inflaming racial tensions with her lies.

Sweeten Apologizes in Court

Sweeten apologized in court and said she wouldn't blame her behavior on her marital problems and the strain from receiving infertility treatments.

"I let my life slip out of control, and I did not have the proper tools or coping mechanisms to handle the enormous stress I was under," she said. "My life imploded."

In May, her ex-husband, Anthony Rakoczy, told "Good Morning America" that he was stunned by his ex-wife's actions and that she had always been a good mother.

"I just think she just kind of lost it a little bit," he said. "Whatever happened is not Bonnie."

The drama continued after the sentencing when Sweeten's father, William Siner, 66, enraged at the sentence handed down to his daughter and the sight of her being led off to prison in handcuffs, created a melee by physically attacking two news cameraman outside of the courtroom.

Sweeten could face additional time in prison, as federal investigators are pursuing the theft from the grandfather's 401(k) account, Henry told the AP.

ABC News' Stephanie Sy, Richard Esposito, Jay Shaylor, Imaeyen Ibanga and Emily Friedman contributed to this report.

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