Judge sets $1M bail for 'abducted' mom

May 30, 2009 6:11:34 PM PDT
A woman accused of staging an abduction hoax that began near Philadelphia and ended at Florida's Walt Disney World was released on $1 million bail, authorities said Saturday. Officials at the Bucks County Correctional Facility in suburban Philadelphia say Bonnie Sweeten, 38, was released at about 5 p.m. Saturday after posting 10 percent of her bail, $100,000 in cash. Her attorney, Louis R. Busico, could not be reached for comment Saturday night.

Sweeten was returned to Pennsylvania from Florida on Friday and arraigned on misdemeanor charges of identity theft and false reporting. In setting bail, a judge said he thought she was a flight risk. Busico told reporters on Friday night that his client is not a flight risk and was not running from the law.

Authorities say Sweeten phoned 911 on Tuesday from downtown Philadelphia and told dispatchers that she and her daughter had been carjacked and stuffed in the trunk of a Cadillac near their suburban home, prompting a frantic search that ended 30 hours later at a Disney World hotel.

Local police also are investigating whether Sweeten stole money from a family member or others, but no related charges have been filed. Authorities allege that Sweeten had withdrawn $12,000 from several bank accounts and flew to Florida with her daughter under another person's name, paying cash for the one-way tickets and for a three-night hotel stay inside the park.

Her daughter, Julia Rakoczy, was reunited with her father, Anthony Rakoczy, in Florida on Thursday. Rakoczy still lives near Sweeten, his ex-wife, and spoke well of her in interviews this week.

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