A father was sentenced to three years in jail Friday for abducting his two young children in South San Francisco and then motoring away with them aboard a stolen yacht that ran out of gas, attorneys said.Okay the dad's behavior was inappropriate, but this story did not justify the huge news coverage and the 3-year sentence. Isn't it odd that he was charged with stealing the kids and possessing the yacht? No, he was possessing his kids and stealing the yacht.
But as long as Christopher Maffei, 43, behaves he'll only spend about another nine months behind bars due to the jail time credit he already has. San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Jonathan Karesh also ordered him to do 16 months of supervision, which is like probation, after gets out of jail, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
Until the sentence is complete Maffei must stay away from his son Devin and daughter Brooklynn, who were 2 and 3 years old respectively when he snatched them from their South San Francisco home Sept. 4. He packed the kids onto a yacht stolen from an Alameda marina and then set out on a strange odyssey that ended three days later when, police said, a relieved Maffei surrendered in the waters near Santa Cruz.
"He realizes it was inappropriate, illegal and not supported by any kind of rational thinking," said defense attorney Jeff Boyarsky. "He wants the rest of the family and the public to know he's sorry for the anguish he caused."
Maffei believed the toddlers were in danger in part because they were around an aunt with alleged substance abuse problems, Boyarsky said. But prosecutors and police never found any evidence of abuse and noted Maffei should have asked authorities to check into his concerns.
Boyarsky said his client had no definite plan on what to do after taking the kids. They ended up out of gas in the Pacific Ocean and authorities guided them to land in Santa Cruz, where the children were reunited, unharmed, with their mother Jennifer Hipon.
Maffei pleaded no contest to child stealing and possession of the 41-foot yacht Unleashed in April. He's remained in San Mateo County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bail since the days after the abduction.
This is, of course, just a child custody dispute gone bad. The mom was taking steps to cut off the dad from the kids. Moms refuse visitation all the time, and they aren't sentenced to jail for it.
Just a couple of points ...
1. he was facing more than 10 years of jail time and plead guilty to 2 charges including felony boat possession and felony child abduction.
2. There was a TRO in place and he violated that order. They dropped about 5 charges so that he would plead to the 2 above charges.
3. He could not afford bail and had a public defender. The 3 years is as much due to that fact as anything else. Our system makes it hard to be charged with felonies and be without resources.
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