Presumably, Philippe Delbecq had a fair amount of sway with authorities in the United Arab Emirates. As chief training pilot for Etihad Airways, a multibillion-dollar airline created under royal decree, he's the man responsible for ensuring that every pilot knows what he's doing.

Delbecq says that near the end of August 2011, after she'd been in Dubai for a year, she, her daughter, and her parents were summoned to meet with authorities with the Criminal Investigation Department for a day of interrogation and fact-finding. They took a tense drive through the desert heat toward downtown Abu Dhabi, the capital city. "We felt a little bit nervous," Delbecq concedes. "Of course, we expected it."

Upon arriving at the facility, the family was split up and led to separate interrogation rooms. Because legal proceedings are conducted in Arabic, Delbecq did not understand what was being said, nor could she explain herself. Her lawyer was left to convey the angst his client experienced back in Florida. Delbecq says that although the day of questioning was nerve-racking, it didn't take long to convince the judge that the family was justified in violating the custody agreement and fleeing the U.S.

Leslie Delbecq (left); her mother, Jeanine De Riddere; and her father, Philippe Delbecq, are wanted by the FBI on charges of 
international parental kidnapping.
Courtesy of FBI
Leslie Delbecq (left); her mother, Jeanine De Riddere; and her father, Philippe Delbecq, are wanted by the FBI on charges of international parental kidnapping.
Christopher Dahm has kept his daughter Gabrielle's room just as it was when she was kidnapped by her mother almost two years ago.
Chris Sweeney
Christopher Dahm has kept his daughter Gabrielle's room just as it was when she was kidnapped by her mother almost two years ago.

"At the end of the day, this judge of Interpol affairs dismissed us," she claims. "We were never apprehended. We were never put in jail... Within 24 hours, we were home, safe and sound."

Today, Dahm claims he's a financial consultant and runs a business called Von Dahm Consulting. A quick Google search also shows that he created a blog called Christopher Dahm Scam Tips, which hasn't been updated since September 2011. There's little useful information on the website, but it does suppress his criminal past in Google's search algorithm.

Dahm has also set up a trust in his daughter's name to help cover mounting legal fees, which he estimates at $50,000 to $100,000. On the website helpsavegabby.com, he emphasizes, "Under Federal Law EVERY dollar that gets donated... gets used for lawyers." The address to send donations is his home in Pompano. Because the trust is not registered with Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, nor is it registered in the IRS's database of tax-exempt charitable organizations, it is difficult to confirm how much has been donated and whether it has indeed all been put toward legal fees. Dahm says it's not technically a charitable organization and is thus not required by law to be registered.

And he continues to make enemies. According to court records, Dahm was involved in another legal skirmish recently. This past February, he and a woman named Esmeralda Dekaj were sitting in his car at a red light, supposedly on their way to the gym. Suddenly, Dekaj's husband, a bull of a man named Pjeter whom she had left the night before, pulled up next to them in a white Dodge Caravan. He turned the wheel and bumped Dahm's Mercedes sedan. Rather than risk an awkward situation with another man's wife, Dahm sped away, with Pjeter bumping Dahm's car a few more times.

Immediately after the incident, Dahm filed court documents alleging that Dekaj's husband had committed repeat acts of domestic violence against him. "I thought I was going to DIE," Dahm wrote in the report. "I fear this man will come to my home... and try to hurt me or KILL ME. I AM AFRAID FOR MY LIFE!!!"

Esmeralda Dekaj has since returned to her husband and describes Dahm as a liar who uses his daughter's plight to elicit sympathy. Pjeter Dekaj was charged with domestic violence, and Dahm intends to testify against him. Dekaj would face more than ten years if convicted.

New enemies and old felonies withstanding, Dahm is not the one who is the international fugitive. A Broward judge awarded him sole custody of Gabrielle about a month after Delbecq and her family skipped town. Asked directly about his criminal history, Dahm says, "Things that happened in the past are in the past and have no bearing on the situation. My daughter was kidnapped. I'm the victim of a horrible crime."

He continues to nudge the FBI and the State Department to take action to bring Gabrielle back to the U.S. Now, almost two years since Delbecq ran off with his daughter, he's frustrated with the pace of progress. An email from the State Department just a few weeks ago informed Dahm that the FBI would not be pursuing what's called an Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution warrant. A spokeswoman with the State Department explained to Dahm that the FBI does "not believe that this will add any additional benefit to the case as they already have out the federal indictment, arrest warrant, and existing Interpol red notices." The FBI declined to comment for this article.

Meanwhile, 7,000 miles away, Delbecq says she and Gabrielle lead relatively normal lives in the United Arab Emirates. Delbecq has friends, recently began dating again, and is on Facebook posting semiprovocative pictures in which she looks older and puffier than she does in the FBI's profile. For a wanted fugitive, she's remarkably easy to find.

Delbecq says a child psychologist diagnosed Gabrielle with separation anxiety but otherwise declines commenting further about her daughter beyond saying, "She's a very happy little girl." As for having once fallen in love with Dahm, Delbecq chalks it up to being a naive 20-something who was a tad too superficial. "Eventually, he cast a spell on me," she says.

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5 comments
joslin1
joslin1

I worked for Chris in 2011.  He was using the name Henry and speaking directly with timeshare owners, getting them to send thousands of dollars for properties he (and others in the office) claimed they had buyers for.  This only stopped when I answered the phone one day and an FBI agent asked for Chris Dahm (until then I did not know his name) and stated that he was standing outside his alleged office (a PO Box) and that he knew who he was and who his probation officer was (The address we used and gave victims was in Wyoming).  I only worked for him for 3 or 4 weeks (something I am ashamed of ) and only got paid for the last week by threatening to email a "client" he stole $15,000 to $20,000 from.  He is a complete and total scumbag and theif and should be in prison, not on probation.  It's a lucky child that does not have him as a father.

valeriegeldman
valeriegeldman

I am glad to hear that Leslie and the baby are doing fine. I am Gus Geldman's wife, and yes my husband may have made some mistakes, but he did everything right in that warrenty company and chris stole all of our money, we had to let our employees go right before thanksgiving, and people were mad and showed up to chris house throwing rocks and threatening Chris. He was a smooth talking man who new how to manipulate others. He used our money to pay for that fancy wedding and take that nice honeymoon. And leslie and her mother showed up to my door and I told them how he had stole every dime from us. She had already made up her mind to divorce him. I am glad that Gaby is far from him, I do not believe he has changed and does not deserve to have her in his life.

ChrisSweeney
ChrisSweeney

Chris Dahm's lawyer has sent an email to the New Times raising concerns about some points made in this article. Below readers can find his letter, as well our response to the points made. 

 

Dear Mr Sweeney:Some corrections to your article:Leslie and Chris got married at Saint Pius X Catholic Church in Fort Lauderdale, NOT the St. Regis. The reception afterward was at the Hyatt Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale.Chris  NEVER gave Leslie a gun to use for any reason. The ONLY loaded gun in the house was in their nightstand, in their bedroom. Chris NEVER said that anyone was looking for him, because they were NOT. Chris  was always very easy to find.In 1995, Chris NEVER went berserk or tore off an arm rest. Chris claims that he NEVER claimed that ANYONE’S condos were sold; he contends  that people who worked for him made those claims to the public, not him. Chris maintains he  NEVER stashed loaded guns around the house, NOR did he ever rip ANYONE off. ALL of the other guns were locked up, and NOT loaded. He further claims that he  NEVER stole ANYTHING from ANYONE. There was never a “lock down” situation at his residence.It should be noted that Leslie had the full opporuntiy to raise her concerns at the trial, which she did, and they were considered by the court in its decision. Please correct your article accordingly. Thank you for your consideration.

 

*Chris  NEVER gave Leslie a gun to use for any reason

We never wrote that Chris gave Leslie a gun. We have her quoted saying that he put one in her drawer. It’s a direct quote. This point is discussed in court documents filed during the divorce by Delbecq. And Chris told me that Leslie discharged the gun when trying to take it out of the drawer on one occasion.

 

*Chris NEVER said that anyone was looking for him, because they were NOT. Chris  was always very easy to find.

This is from a direct quote that Leslie made. Furthermore, the court documents include Delbecq discussing that someone came to their house looking for him. Saying that Chris was always easy to find is subjective.

 

*In 1995, Chris NEVER went berserk or tore off an arm rest

The arrest report that we viewed from 1995 describes how Chris was placed in hand cuffs and put in the back of the squad car. While in the back, he managed to get the cuffs in front of him and “pulled the armrest off.” In the story, this assertion is qualified with “police records show.” He was removed from the car and hit with pepper spray, according to the report. He was charged with ‘resist/obstruction w/o violence,” among other things.

 

*Chris claims that he NEVER claimed that ANYONE’S condos were sold; he contends  that people who worked for him made those claims to the public, not him. 

Chris pleaded no contest to felony fraud charges for his role in the timeshare scheme. The description of the scam in court records includes detailed description of how the scam worked, including that people were told their condos had been sold.

 

*Chris maintains he  NEVER stashed loaded guns around the house

Chris told me that his ex-wife discharged a loaded gun that he had put in the dresser drawer. Furthermore, a court document filed by Leslie states: “Additionally my husband had loaded firearms which he kept in the bedroom where we slept with my infant daughter.”

 

*NOR did he ever rip ANYONE off

Allegations that Dahm ripped people off are in direct quotes from Leslie and they appear in documents filed by Delbecq during the divorce proceedings.

 

*ALL of the other guns were locked up, and NOT loaded

Delbecq claims otherwise. And there is discussion in the second deposition about how the guns were later removed from Dahm’s house and then locked up at his grandfather’s home. Delbecq claimed that Chris had another loaded pistol at his disposal, which he once answered the door holding.

 

*He further claims that he  NEVER stole ANYTHING from ANYONE.

Delbecq claims that he did steal money from co-workers. And, again, Chris’ pleaded no contest to felony fraud charges.

 

*There was never a “lock down” situation at his residence.

In a court document filed by Leslie, she wrote: “my daughter and I, for the brief time we resided with Christopher Dahm, literally were in a lockdown situation with limited transportation.”

 

*It should be noted that Leslie had the full opporuntiy to raise her concerns at the trial, which she did, and they were considered by the court in its decision.

This is abundantly clear in the article.

 

*Leslie and Chris got married at Saint Pius X Catholic Church in Fort Lauderdale, NOT the St. Regis. The reception afterward was at the Hyatt Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale.

Leslie told us twice that the reception was at the St. Regis. However, we will run a correction nothing this point. 

 

 

adrianmiceli
adrianmiceli

I love your explanation on each of these.  Leslie deserves better than Chris and should not have to be a runaway with her child.  Chris should be in jail.

 
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