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Hellmann Pleads Guilty to Teen Kidnapping

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Amanda Hellmann Amanda Hellmann
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BROOME COUNTY, N.Y. -

Amanda Hellmann, the 29-year-old Vestal woman charged with kidnapping two local teenage sisters in 2015, has pleaded guilty.

On Thursday afternoon in the Broome County Courthouse, Hellmann pleaded guilty to a felony count of kidnapping in the second degree.

Her sentencing will take place on July 11th. With this guilty plea, Hellmann is expected to face 10 years in state prison and five years post-release supervision.

According to a felony complaint filed in Vestal Town Court, Hellmann abducted then 15-year-old Kylea Fortner and Shaeleen Fortner, then 13, from the area of the Susquehanna Valley High and Middle Schools on Conklin Road in Conklin.  Officials say Hellmann, who is not a relative, did not have the legal right to do this.  They add that because of the girls' ages, they could not consent as a matter of law. 

Authorities say that for 11 months Hellmann kept the sisters in her house and prevented law enforcement from returning them to the foster home where they had been living.  Police reportedly found the sisters at her Vestal residence on March 9, 2016.

The prosecution says the safety of the girls is of key importance in this case.

“We still had two victims in this case that had to go through this process as well.  And we always take that into consideration,” said Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell.

Hellmann's attorney Ron Benjamin told Fox 40 that he believes if things had been handled different earlier with the Department of Social Services and the management of supervision of the kids, things could have ended up differently and not in a criminal court.

“There were errors in judgment such that the kidnapping issue became a serious issue.  We spoke about it.  We discussed it.  We certainly did not want to put those girls through trial, and agreed to take the plea,” said Benjamin.

On March 11th, the biological mother of the girls, Cindy Fortner, was also charged with second-degree kidnapping. According to authorities, Fortner was allegedly in a relationship with Hellmann and aided and abetted in the kidnapping.  She is being held in the Broome County Jail.  According to Cornwell, her case is being handled separately and unless she chooses to plead guilty as well, she still has the opportunity for a trial by jury.