Stockton - Today, District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar announced that Dustin Forte, age 44, pleaded guilty to one count of Penal code §278.5, Felony Child Abduction. He was sentenced by the Honorable Michael Coughlan and received a four year term of probation and is forbidden from seeing his children until a Family Law Court deems it appropriate. He had failed to return his children to their mother who lives out of the state after their summer visitation.
"This was an amazing collaboration among several agencies to find these young children safe and well and return them to their mother," said District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar. "Heather Gordon and David Sant of the San Joaquin County Bureau of Investigations Child Abduction Unit (CAT) were contacted by the mother and directed her to file a missing person's report with the Ripon Police Department who conducted an absolutely first-rate and extremely thorough investigation to locate her young boys."
According to official records, on July 7, 2020, the San Joaquin District Attorney's Office CAT unit was advised of a possible child abduction in Ripon, California. The father, Dustin Forte, had failed to return his children, ages 6 and 8, at the conclusion of his summer visitation to the primary custodial parent, Jenna Omstead, who resides in New Mexico. In early July, he stated he would be driving the children to New Mexico, but they never arrived. CAT investigators began working with the mother to obtain an order from the court for the return of the children.
In the meantime, Ms. Omstead filed a missing person's report with Officer Trevor McGinnis of the Ripon Police Department. CAT investigators made efforts to reach the father to gain cooperation and notify him of the new court date but were unable to locate him. Detective Jarred Heuvel was assigned the case and he and Officer McGinnis were able to determine through the use of modern technology that Mr. Forte had never left the state. After an exhaustive search for the subject and the two juveniles, Ripon police located them in Tracy, California on July 9, 2020. Mr. Forte was arrested and the children, who were safe and uninjured, were taken into protective custody and were later released to their mother.
Thank you to Deputy District Attorney David Silva who brought this case to a swift and fair resolution. No one claimed that Mr. Forte had any intent to physically harm his children, but he should have taken seriously and complied with the family court orders and sought legal recourse if he wished to have them changed.