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Kidnapping suspect transferred to Hillsborough

BRADENTON — A woman charged with abducting a 2-month-old girl from a woman in Plant City has been transferred from the Manatee County jail to the custody of authorities from Hillsborough County.

Amalia Pereira Tabata, 43, was arrested in Manatee County on a false imprisonment warrant out of Hillsborough County Tuesday evening.

Before the transfer, Tabata was being held on $750,000 bond.

Tabata is the wife of minor league outfielder Jose Tabata. In a statement released by the Pirates this morning, Tabata said he was cooperating with investigators.

"I was shocked to be told ... that my wife has been arrested for kidnapping," Tabata said. "I am hurt, frustrated, and confused by her actions. I have and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement officials in anyway that I can. Until I have all of the facts, I cannot comment any further."

The Pirates are currently conducting spring training in Bradenton. Tabata, a native of Venezuela, was optioned last week to the club's Class AA team in Altoona, Pa.

Pirates president Frank Coonelly said this morning that the Manatee County Sheriff's Office has told the team that the player was not involved in the alleged kidnapping.

"Jose was as shocked as the rest of us upon hearing the news and has cooperated fully with law enforcement officials. The Pirates organization will continue to do anything and everything we can to assist and support Jose during this difficult personal time," Coonelly said.

Coonelly declined additional comment, except to say that "like Jose, we are extremely thankful the young child was safely returned to her family. Our hearts go out to her and her family for the pain they must have endured during the hours that she was missing.”

Amalia Tabata was taken to jail Tuesday after Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies found her with the abducted two-month-old girl in a strip mall parking lot at the corner of 60th Avenue West and 34th Street West in Bradenton. Authorities located her after an anonymous call to 911.

When deputies arrived, Tabata was reportedly holding the baby in her arms and alledgedly told them the baby was the missing child. She was taken to the Manatee County jail.

The baby, Sandra Cruz-Francisco, was returned to her family in Plant City. It is unclear why Tabata took the baby, Plant City authorities said.

During her first court appearance this morning, Tabata stood at a podium and was asked by a judge whether she spoke English and she said yes.

On Tuesday night, when she was being led outside the sheriff’s office, she said she was innocent when asked by a reporter in Spanish.

Plant City authorities said Sandra’s mother contacted them Monday after a woman at the Plant City Health Department falsely identified herself as an agent working for a federal immigration agency. The woman alledgedly told family members to give her the baby. If they did not cooperate the woman threatened deportation, authorities said.

The woman left with the baby and did not return. The family contacted police about 9 p.m. Monday.