Brian Edward Pickus

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Brian Edward Pickus (aka Hezron Judah, Judah Lovesong, and Sam) was born on June 20, 1949 in Orange, California. He joined the Children of God in the early 1970s. He has both U.S. and Argentine citizenship. In February 2005, he was still a member of the Family International living in Brazil but since then there have been unconfirmed reports that he has left the group or is planning to.

He was an international fugitive from justice and the subject of an Interpol arrest warrant issued by the United States on charges of kidnapping, burglary and unlawful flight to avoid prosectution. It has also been alleged that he participated in acts of violence against and physical abuse of children in the 1980s.

In 1978, his spouse, Candy Ann Pickus, left the Children of God with some of her children. She wasn't able to leave with all her children because, as she explained to Houston Chronicle reporter Evan Moore, "I couldn't get them out when I left. Brian had taken another wife and left with the boys before I left Spain. After I got back to Honolulu, I filed for divorce and was granted custody of all the children."

She later convinced Brian Pickus to bring the two children to visit her and then took lawful custody of the children as granted by the court handling her divorce case. According to records in related civil and criminal cases and newspaper articles regading those cases, in September 1980 Brian Edward Pickus, four hired "thugs" and an undertermined number (estimates vary between 10 and 20) of members of the Children of God violently entered her home, assaulted her and her boyfriend and kidnapped her two older children. It is alleged that Brian Pickus then fled with the abducted children to California, where he procured forged passports and later took the children to other countries including Argentina, Chile and possibly Spain. According to Houston Chronicle reporter Evan Moore, Brian's mother, Phyllis Gottwalt, "stated in a deposition [that] she gave [Angelo] Frudakis $20,000 to get the children."

After the children were abducted, Candy Ann Pickus and Richard Peyer filed civil cases against the Family of Love, Brian Pickus, Phyllis Gottwalt and others. She also reported the matter to law enforcement agencies and eventually the United States and the state of Hawaii issued an Interpol arrest warrant for Brian Edward Pickus on federal and state charges of kidnapping, burglary and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. An October 1, 1980 newsletter by the Citizen's Freedom Foundation also noted that: "A reward of $6,600 is offerred to anyone who locates the kidnapped children. The reward money has been provided by the family and a radio station in Hawaii. Call CFF-IS for details."

In 1987, Brian Pickus became an Argentine citizen. In July 1987, one of the abducted children, then aged 13, ran away from the Argentina Teen Combo overseen by Claire Borowik and Manuel "Cacho" José Sabatasso. In 1989, Brian Pickus was arrested during a raid on a Family Home in Bahia Blanca, Argentina and held pending extradition to the United States.

After his capture, FBI agent George Kent of Honolulu, told Houston Chronicle reporter Evan Moore, ""It should have been treated differently from the first, but it wasn't. By the time we got into it, he (Pickus) was long gone, and we stayed about four years behind him for a long time. But it won't be messed up this time. He's coming back, and he'll be tried."

However, after he was arrested, the Family provided $70,000 USD in cash to bail him out of jail and lawyers to appeal his extradition. However, according to Argentine Supreme Court records, some of the lawyers who handled his appeals had their fees reimbursed by the Argentine government. The extradition case dragged on for many years and the decision of a lower court in Bahia Blanca to extradite him to the United States was appealed to higher courts and the Supreme Court of Argentina. In April 1998, the Supreme Court sent the case back to Bahia Blanca for further review. Finally, on July 10, 1998, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Bahia Blanca court and ordered Brian Pickus captured and extradited to the United States. However, Brian Pickus managed to escape capture and eventually fled to Brazil. In 1999, a federal charge of "unlawful flight to avoid prosecution" against Pickus was dismissed on the basis that the state of Hawaii had declined to prosecute Pickus on the original charges from the 1980 burglary and child abduction case.

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