Criminal Charges Against Father, Grandmother in Child Custody Case Dismissed

Samuel Montes remains behind bars on immigration hold

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Criminal charges against father Samuel Montes and grandmother Zoraida Miller in a bitter custody battle were dropped Monday. Montes and Miller had been charged with interfering with child custody. Miller and the family's attorney, Michael Grieco discuss the latest developments.

    The criminal charges against a father of a 3-year-old girl at the center of a bitter custody battle were dropped Monday, his attorney said.

    Prosecutors dropped interfering with child custody charges against 22-year-old Samuel Montes during a hearing Monday, his attorney, Michael Grieco said.

    Missing 3-Year-Old At Center of Gypsy-American Culture Clash

    [MI] Missing 3-Year-Old At Center of Gypsy-American Culture Clash
    The case of missing 3-year-old Angelina Montes is centered around a clash of cultures.

    Charges were also dismissed against Montes' mother, Zoraida Miller, who was arrested last month on similar charges, Grieco said.

    Montes remains behind bars on an immigration hold, which Grieco said he hopes will be lifted by the end of the week.

    Mother of Missing Girl in Custody Case Speaks

    [MI] Mother of Missing Girl in Custody Case Speaks
    Three-year-old Angelina Montes is officially listed as missing by state authorities, but on Tuesday afternoon she played at a park in Miami Beach in front of an NBC 6 news crew. The child is at the center of custody battle. Her father, Samuel Montes, 22, is in jail and being held on $250,000 bond and a hold for immigration in her disappearance. His attorney, Michael Grieco, told NBC 6 that the paternal grandparents are taking care of the child. The girl's mother, Vanessa Churon, is in Venezuela. In a phone interview from there Tuesday night, she said she had been cut off from communication with her daughter, but was relieved that Angelina appears OK.

    "The family is grateful that the cases were dismissed," Grieco said. "Sam is one step away from being reunited with his daughter, he's very happy."

    The child custody saga began when Montes' daughter, Angelina, was reported missing on March 7, 2011.

    Grandmother Arrested in Custody Battle

    [MI] Grandmother Arrested in Custody Battle
    Zoraida Miller, grandmother of 3-year-old Angelina Montes, was arrested on Friday when she brought the girl to a court hearing. Miller's son is also in jail connection to a custody case between the girl's mother and him.

    The girl's mother, Vanessa Churon, is in Venezuela. Montes and Churon lived in southwest Miami-Dade County with their young daughter until Churon left in February 2011 due to physical and emotional abuse from Montes, police said. Grieco has denied the abuse claims.

    Though Churon has custody of the daughter, Miller prevented her from taking her with her, Miami-Dade Police said.

    The charge of interfering with child custody against Montes was filed eight days after his daughter was reported missing, and he was later arrested in Pensacola on a warrant.

    Grieco said the paternal grandparents had been taking care of the child, and that she was never in any danger and was not harmed. Grieco said the Montes family feared the child would be taken back to Venezuela and said the issue stems from a clash of cultures. He said both parents are of Gypsy descent.

    The girl was finally brought before authorities last month by Montes' parents, and Miller was arrested on a charge of interfering with child custody.

    The girl is still in the custody of the grandparents, Grieco said.

    Grieco said there's a still a pending family court case but said he was glad it was taken out of criminal court.

    "The state attorney and her staff saw the light and realized this case didn't belong in a criminal courthouse," Grieco said.