HONOLULU (AP) — A Hawaii man was sentenced Tuesday to 30 days in federal detention for lying on his 2-year-old daughter's passport application so he could take her on a trip to Mexico without the mother's knowledge.
Gregory Armin Scher can serve the sentence during 10 consecutive weekends starting in March, so that he doesn't lose his job as a crane operator for Honolulu's rail transit project and can continue to support his child, U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway ruled.
According to court documents, Scher planned a trip to the U.S.-Mexico coastline despite an informal joint custody arrangement with the mother, who lives in Missouri.
Scher sought help from a congresswoman when the passport application was rejected because it didn't have the required signatures from both parents. Both parents must sign off on passport applications for minors, in part to prevent children from being taken out of the country in a custody dispute.
Scher claimed that the mother had abandoned the girl and was nowhere to be found, according to an affidavit filed by the State Department agent who investigated.
"The child's mother is no longer around and not available to sign the minor's passport application," he stated on the application, according to the agent's affidavit, filed in April.
The agent found that Scher and the mother communicated almost daily and that the mother didn't know Scher was planning to take the girl on a trip to Mexico.
Scher said Tuesday before the sentencing that he regrets lying about the mother's whereabouts but did so out of frustration because she wouldn't let him take their daughter on a cruise.
"They tried to make it sound like it was a parental kidnapping attempt," he said. "Out of utter frustration, I lied on a passport application."
When the mother was contacted in Missouri, she told the agent she had left Hawaii and made an agreement with Scher that the girl would spend three months with each parent. She said she didn't know Scher applied for the girl's passport and didn't consent to the girl obtaining one.