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Daddy Not-So-Dearest Pleads Guilty to Fraud, Kidnapping Kids

By Joel Zand on September 03, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

David Matusiewicz, a divorced Delaware optometrist, pleaded guilty today to federal bank fraud and kidnapping charges.

Since his crime spree reads like a television drama, it should be no surprise that he was profiled on America's Most Wanted

In 2007, Matusiewicz told his ex-wife that he was taking their 3 young daughters to Disney World in Florida. Instead, he fled with them to Central America via Mexico, taking his elderly mother along for the ride in a 33-foot mobile home.

That's not all.

Ten days before he fled, Matusiewicz scammed a local bank into giving him a $249,000 home equity loan, convincing the loan officer that his 'wife' was in the next room where he would get her signature. That's right: he also failed to tell the loan officer that he was divorced.

Forged signatures on the loan documents in hand, the optometrist traded the loan documents in exchange for a check to add to more cash he reportedly had from selling his optometry business and investments.

Violating the divorced couple's shared joint custody order, he fled to Central America with the girls, and broke off all contact with his wife, reportedly telling his children that she had died.

According to, a web site created for Americans living in, or thinking of moving to Panama. Matusiewicz had stuff the motor home bought in his mother's name "so full of food, diapers and other personal items that the tires needed to be repaired just days before he took his family south."

The original complaint filed against Matusiewicz last year (see below) accused him of fleeing form Delaware with his 2 daughters on August 26, 2007 after telling his ex-wife that he was taking them to Walt Disney World in Florida.

Matusiewicz reportedly ended up in Panama, paying $175,000 in cash for a home, and carrying a false Canadian passport.

How did Christine Belford, Matusiewicz's ex-wife, explain their daddy's disappearance to the girls? "I tell them he's in a time out."

Here is Matusiewicz's indictment detailing his bank fraud scheme:

Finally, here is a copy of Matusiewicz's plea agreement filed in federal court today:

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