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May 27, 1999
Fugitive Mother Returns To Reunite With Daughters
R S Shankar in Philadelphia
After a two-year search in more than 20 countries costing $ 3.2 million, millionaire businessman Bipin Shah has been reunited with his two daughters. But now he will have to deal with his ex-wife. For Ellen Dever, who was reportedly hiding in a European country after forcibly removing her daughters to a Swiss city, returned on Wednesday, May 26, to Philadelphia to see them.
She faces up to 14 years in prison and a $ 30,000 fine for running away with them in defiance of a court order that had given her and her former husband joint custody.
"She knew she would face charges," said William Lamb, her attorney, but added that she could not stay away without seeing her daughters.
Shah had said soon after getting possession of his daughters that he wanted to work out some reconciliation so that the children are not deprived of their mother. He had also declared that he had no ego hassles over reaching an understanding.
Dever fled with Sarah, 9, and Genevieve, 7, in June 1997. She had claimed earlier that Shah, who made his fortune by devising the automated bank systems and whose personal wealth is estimated at $ 300 million, had physically abused her several times over the years and that she feared for her children's safety.
But she never directly accused him of harming the children. Shah has vigorously denied her charges. After she fled with the children, Shah received a court order giving him sole custody of the girls.
Shah was apparently aware that she was arriving. So were the federal agents who arrested her as she stepped off a plane at the Philadelphia International Airport. She was spirited off to be arraigned before a judge. A few hours later she was released on a $ 255,000 bail and ordered to turn in her passport and stay at her parents' home near Philadelphia.
There were no indications that she had seen the children a day after arrival. Sources close to her said she wants to work for a court-arranged system to see her children, even if she is in a prison.
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