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Kidnapped child returned

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Tiffany Rubin, who lives in St. Albans but works as a fifth-grade special education teacher at Long Island City's PS 166, said she snatched her son Kobe Lee out of a South Korean school and brought him back to the United States on March 26.Jeffrey Salko, Rubin's ex-boyfriend and Kobe's father, had abducted the boy and left the country in August, Rubin said in a phone interview.."We had to put a wig on my son so no one would recognize that he was a little boy until we got to the U.S. embassy," she said. "I just have to make sure [Salko] doesn't come back here. I have to protect my son."Rubin said she and her ex-boyfriend, who is of South Korean descent, had been fighting for custody of the child at the time of the kidnapping and Salko had owed money for child supportRubin has custodial care of the child and decides where he lives, said Mark Miller, founder of the American Association for Lost Children, a nonprofit group that tracks down missing children. Rubin said the child had been living with her at the time of his abduction and stayed with his father, who had visitation rights, on alternate weekends.But Salko had violated his custody agreement by taking the child across state lines, Miller said."[Rubin] did whatever she needed to do to get her child out," said Vernon Thompson, an attorney for the American Association for Lost Children's board of directors. "Normally, you'd go through the regular channels and it would be an orderly process. But you run into red tape and sometimes fall through the cracks - that's how governments work."Miller said he did not expect South Korea to take any action against the agency because Salko had not yet become a citizen of that country.But on Aug. 21, Salko and the boy were not found at an address he had listed as his own, Rubin said. She said she contacted the FBI and an international parental kidnapping warrant was issued for Salko's arrest.Rubin said she was able to access her ex-boyfriend's e-mail account, where she discovered that he had flown their son to South Korea.Samantha Cason, Rubin's sister, eventually contacted the American Association for Lost Children, a nonprofit group that tracks down missing children, Rubin said. The distraught mother and an investigator from the association then booked flights to South Korea and brought Kobe home, she said.Rubin said she had not heard from her son, who was 6 at the time he was taken to South Korea, for several months after he disappeared, but that he eventually contacted her in February."He thought it was OK for him to be over there," she said. "He didn't know he had been kidnapped and I didn't want to tell him that his father had done that. He said he missed me and he loved me and was sad."Rubin said she does not believe Salko will return to the United States again and try to take her son."If he tried to come back here, he would be arrested," she said.Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Updated 6:57 pm, October 10, 2011
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