An impromptu custody hearing in Carson City District Court on Friday may have ended the prospect that a woman charged with illegally fleeing with her child to Italy will spend time behind bars.
Toni Lee Adams, 41, informally agreed to arrange for her 16-year-old daughter, Amanda, come to the United State this August to see her father. Chuck Adams has seen his daughter since she was taken to Italy eight years ago in defiance of a custody order, but it has always been on his wife's terms.
After eight years of international legal wrangling, Adams was extradited to Carson City from Rome earlier this month to face charges of kidnapping and child concealment.
When it was realized the kidnapping charge was not permitted by international law, the charge was dropped.
Adams will likely plead guilty to child concealment at a district court arraignment next month. Because of a wrinkle in Nevada Revised Statutes, the offense can be treated as a misdemeanor or a felony. Judge Michael Griffin said that decision will be made based on Adams' behavior in sharing custody of the couple's daughter.
"I don't intend to put you in jail," he told Adams. "But if things don't work out, I will put you in jail."
Adams was silent during the hearing, offering short responses to Griffin's questions. Chuck Adams, however, made an emotional plea to his former wife, asking for cooperation in the father-daughter reunion.
"Please talk to her and give me back something," he said. "You know in your heart I have a lot of love for her.
"She can go live in Rome. That's what she wants and I know that."
Amanda remains in Italy in the care of a relative.
As a condition of Adams' release on bail, she cannot leave the area, nor can she apply for a passport. District Attorney Noel Waters hinted at the possibility of a probationary sentence if she complies with the court order.
"He would like a shot at having Amanda in his company for about a month this summer," he said. "He just wants a shot at getting something which he has been denied for the last eight years.'
Chuck, who is remarried, also has a 20-year-old son with Toni. The son is presently serving in the military.
Griffin said that had he known the circumstances of the custody battle he would never have signed the order for extradition.