AUGUSTA — A Fairfield woman convicted earlier this year of illegally taking her two children out of state asked the state Thursday to allow her to travel to Florida to argue for keeping custody of her third child.

BethMarie Retamozzo, 36, who in February was convicted on two counts of criminal restraint by a parent, appeared in the Capital Judicial Center to seek permission to travel to Florida to oppose an effort by officials there to terminate Retamozzo’s custody rights to the child, who lives there. Retamozzo also sought permission to travel to Peru to visit a sick grandfather.

“The state is extremely uncomfortable with letting her leave the state,” said Frayla Schoenfeld, a Kennebec County assistant district attorney.

While the court refused the request to travel to Peru, Judge William Stokes urged Retamozzo and prosecutors to try to reach an agreement that would allow her to travel to Florida while mitigating her ability to flee.

Retamozzo’s children, Joslyn and Joel Retamozzo, who were 7 and 6 at the time, were reported missing in August 2013 by Retamozzo’s mother, Pamela Taylor, of Waterville, who had court-ordered custody of the children. Police learned Retamozzo was heading to Florida with her children in violation of an order from a probate judge in Somerset County that permitted Retamozzo only supervised visits.

Taylor testified during the trial that she thought Retamozzo, who was seeking to regain custody of the children, was taking the children to the Skowhegan State Fair. When they didn’t return on time, she called police.

Retamozzo was arrested a few days later at a rest stop off Interstate 95 in Hendersonville, South Carolina. Retamozzo’s three children, including Joslyn, Joel and her 2-year-old daughter, were all unharmed. Retamozzo had legal custody of the 2-year-old. The mother was returned to Maine a few days later.

The abduction occurred about two months after a probate judge, following a June 2013 hearing, left Taylor as guardian of Joel and Joslyn, but allowed Retamozzo supervised visits.

In an affidavit seeking an arrest warrant for Retamozzo, Waterville police Officer Adam Sirois described Retamozzo’s diary entries from a decade earlier, in which she “was thinking about killing herself as well as her four children. In addition, she wrote that the devil was telling her to molest her children but that she didn’t know why he was telling her to do this.”

District Attorney Maeghan Maloney has said previously that her office was immediately concerned when Waterville police called to say the children were missing in August 2013.

“We were terrified for what was going to happen to those children,” Maloney said at the time.

A jury returned a guilty verdict for illegally taking the children from their guardian and Retamozzo was sentenced to 21/2 years in jail, with all but five months suspended, and two years of probation, but she has remained free on $25,000 cash bail pending an appeal.

Retamozzo was back in court Thursday to ask for three changes to her bail conditions. The first, a request to extend her curfew from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. on nights when she has to work for her catering business, was accepted, but Stokes and Schoenfeld balked at Retamozzo’s request to travel to Florida and Peru.

Retamozzo’s attorney, Jamesa Drake, said officials in Florida were seeking to terminate Retamozzo’s parental rights to a third child there, and a Florida caseworker has requested a face-to-face meeting with Retamozzo as part of the process. Retamozzo’s rights can be terminated only after a court hearing, during which she would have to be present.

Drake said no date has been set for either the meeting with the caseworker or the court hearing.

“In some ways we acknowledge that this is a bit premature,” Drake said.

Stokes said he understood Retamozzo’s desire to attend the hearings, but had to balance those concerns against her history, which includes at least one charge of violating conditions of release.

“My concern is (if) she goes and refuses to come back, the state has to go through the process of extradition,” he said.

Stokes urged Drake and Schoenfeld to try to agree to conditions that would allow Retamozzo to travel to Florida. Those conditions would include surrendering her passport and providing the state with a specific itinerary of her travel, Stokes said. He cautioned that if Retamozzo failed to return, she would immediately forfeit her $25,000 cash bail, which her father posted. The money would be used to pay for Retamozzo’s extradition, Stokes said.

Craig Crosby can be contacted at 621-5642 or at:

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