Father of Ohio boy taken from mother in 2002 to be sentenced

CLEVELAND (AP) — An Ohio man who authorities say took his then 5-year-old son from his mother in Alabama nearly 14 years ago is scheduled to be sentenced in Cleveland.

Bobby Hernandez, 53, of Cleveland, pleaded guilty last month to charges that included kidnapping, interference of custody, tampering with records and forgery. Hernandez’s attorney has said he hopes the judge will consider how well Hernandez cared for his son, Julian, and sentence Hernandez to probation on Wednesday.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty said after Hernandez’s plea hearing that a lengthy sentence is warranted because Hernandez deprived the boy of a relationship with his mother.

Julian Hernandez was reported missing in August 2002 after his father went to the Birmingham, Alabama-area home of the boy’s mother to babysit. Hernandez instead left a note saying that he’d taken the child. It was the last time the boy’s mother saw him until last year. McGinty said Hernandez had threatened to take the boy from his mother if she ever broke up with him. Hernandez and the woman, who still lives in the Birmingham area, weren’t married.

Hernandez ended up in Cleveland where he established new identities for himself and his son. Hernandez obtained a driver’s license and a Social Security card using the name Jonathan Mangina. A neighbor in Cleveland said Julian Hernandez was known as J.J. Bobby Hernandez was working at a factory in Cleveland when he was arrested last November. He’s been in jail ever since.

The deception was uncovered last fall after discrepancies with a Social Security number arose when Julian Hernandez, an 18-year-old senior at a Cleveland high school, started the college application process. A school counselor subsequently discovered that he was listed as missing by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Julian Hernandez visited his mother and her family in Alabama last Thanksgiving and at Christmas. Bobby Hernandez’s attorney, Ralph DeFranco, says the son hasn’t spoken to his father since a judge issued a no-contact order at Hernandez’s court arraignment in early December. Julian Hernandez is expected to be in court on Wednesday.

DeFranco has said Bobby Hernandez was a “model” father to his son, a straight-A student and athlete. DeFranco also has said that Hernandez knew he’d be caught someday. It hasn’t been explained how Hernandez managed to create new identities and Social Security numbers for himself and his son; details about their lives in Cleveland haven’t been revealed publicly, either.

An Alabama prosecutor, Shawn Allen, has said authorities would meet with Julian Hernandez’s relatives after sentencing to determine whether to extradite Bobby Hernandez to Jefferson County, where he could face prison time for interfering with custody.

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