“Leader of Zetas drug cartel captured: ’40’ may be extradited to U.S.”

July 17, 2013

Los Angeles Times on July 16, 2013 released the following:

“By Tracy Wilkinson

MEXICO CITY _ Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, top leader of the vicious Zetas drug-and-extortion cartel, was in a cell in Mexico City on Tuesday, awaiting interrogation and possible extradition to the United States.

Treviño, known as “40,” was transported to the capital late Monday after his capture in the border city of Nuevo Laredo by Mexican navy special forces following what authorities described as a long pursuit based in part on U.S.-supplied intelligence. Mexican media showed images of him striding in to the federal prosecutor’s organized crime unit, wearing a black polo shirt, escorted by military guards but without handcuffs or other restraints.

Treviño was considered one of the most brutal leaders of a particularly brutal organization, one that branched out from drug trafficking to extortion, kidnapping and the smuggling of migrants — who Treviño and his men routinely slaughtered when they did not cooperate or pay up, authorities say.

Mexico under siege

His arrest marks the most significant blow to organized crime since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office more than seven months ago. His government will certainly attempt to use the arrest to prove its commitment in the drug war — a commitment that has been questioned in many circles, including among U.S. officials who had previously worked extremely closely with their Mexican counterparts but found the rules changing under the new administration.

But the capture will also likely ignite a bloody wave of violence as Treviño’s cohorts fight to succeed him.

It also strengthens the hand of the most powerful drug lord in Mexico, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, whose Sinaloa Cartel competes with the Zetas and may now have its eyes on Nuevo Laredo, Treviño’s hometown and one of the most lucrative crossing points for the shipment of tons of cocaine and marijuana into the U.S.

Under Treviño, the Zetas “controlled hundreds of miles of Mexican territory along the border of Mexico and the United States, which they used to conduct their drug trafficking and money laundering operations” that were valued in millions of dollars, a 2012 indictment in U.S. federal court stated.

The U.S., which had offered a $5-million reward for his arrest, may seek Treviño’s extradition.

The Zetas were formed nearly a decade ago by leaders of the Gulf cartel as their muscle, recruited from a group of deserters from the Mexican army. But the Zetas eventually split from the cartel and surpassed it, spreading its operations through southern Mexico and Central America and exhibiting levels of brutality not previously seen with such regularity. Beheadings, massacres of migrants, torture and dismembering of live victims all became routine parts of the Zetas repertoire.

Authorities believe the Zetas are responsible for many of the more than 70,000 people killed in the last six years of a military-led offensive against powerful drug cartels and fighting among the traffickers.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

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We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and Mexico here.

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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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Colombia Extradites Alleged Drug Lord Daniel Barrera to US

July 9, 2013

BBC on July 9, 2013 released the following:

“Colombia has extradited one of the country’s most notorious drug lords to the US, officials have said.

Daniel Barrera, known as “El Loco” (The Madman), was caught last year in Venezuela, and sent back to Colombia.

While on the run he had cosmetic surgery and tried to burn his fingerprints to conceal his identity.

He was convicted on drugs charges in Colombia in 1990 but escaped. He is wanted in the US on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering.

At the height of his powers, he is believed to have controlled smuggling routes from Colombia through Venezuela to Central America and eventually the US.

He is thought to have transported hundreds of tonnes of cocaine and accrued a vast fortune over almost two decades.

Barrera, now 51, was arrested in Venezuela in September 2012 while making a call in a phone booth.

He only ever used public telephones to communicate with his family and allies, in an attempt to avoid his calls being traced.

The US had offered $5m (£3m) for information leading to his arrest and Colombia added an additional $2.7m to that reward.

Colombian national police chief Jose Roberto Leon said Tuesday’s extradition showed other criminals they were better off turning themselves in.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

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We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and Colombia here.

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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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“Mastros set free in France, but U.S. may still go after them”

June 6, 2013

The Seattle Times on June 5, 2013 released the following:

“Appeals court says the 88-year-old developer and his wife won’t be extradited to the U.S., where they are charged with bankruptcy fraud.

By Sanjay Bhatt
Seattle Times business reporter

Fugitive Seattle businessman Michael R. Mastro may well live out the rest of his life as a free man in the foothills of the French Alps.

A French appellate court Wednesday denied on humanitarian grounds the U.S. Department of Justice’s request to extradite Mastro and his wife, Linda, said Jim Frush, a Seattle attorney who represents the 88-year-old former real-estate magnate at the center of one of Western Washington’s biggest bankruptcies.

“I spoke with Mike, who was understandably very happy and relieved and indicated to me that he and Linda were about to leave for dinner,” he said.

The Mastros had been under electronic monitoring and restricted to their apartment after 6:30 at night as part of an earlier French order.

A federal grand jury indicted the Mastros on charges of bankruptcy fraud in August 2011, two months after the couple disappeared from sight.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle declined to comment Wednesday on the French court’s ruling, saying only that it was examining its options, including a possible appeal.

It’s likely the Justice Department filed a “red notice” with Interpol, a global law-enforcement agency, that puts 190 countries on notice of the outstanding arrest warrant for the couple, said Douglas McNabb, an international criminal-defense lawyer in Washington, D.C.

If the Mastros try to leave France for any other country, they could be held there and possibly extradited to the United States to face the criminal charges, McNabb said.

But if the French court’s ruling isn’t appealed and the Mastros stay put in France, “the ballgame is over with,” he said.

The ruling of the appeals court in Chambéry can be appealed to the Council of State, France’s highest judicial body and roughly equivalent to the U.S. Supreme Court, said Juliet Sorensen, a law professor at Northwestern University who teaches international criminal law.

A treaty signed by the two nations in 1996 requires each to honor a request to extradite persons charged with certain offenses that are punishable in both countries.

But there are exceptions, including one that allows either nation to deny extradition if surrendering the person “might entail exceptionally serious consequences related to age or health,” according to the treaty.

The French appellate court ruled that extraditing the Mastros could have such consequences, and wasn’t persuaded by the Justice Department’s arguments to the contrary, Frush said.

Developer’s downfall

Mastro’s four-decade career as a prolific developer ended in a spectacular crash in 2009 when three banks forced him into bankruptcy court.

Mastro told the court he had nearly $587 million in liabilities, including more than $100 million he owed to individual investors and local groups such as the Italian Club of Seattle.

Against those liabilities, Mastro reported assets of $249 million, most of it debt others owed him.

State regulators also charged him with breaking the law by making false statements to “Friends & Family” investors and selling unregistered securities, charges that Mastro denied.

Mastro and his wife disappeared suddenly in June 2011 after they ignored a bankruptcy judge’s order to hand over two giant diamond rings worth more than $1.4 million.

They officially became fugitives a month later when warrants were signed for their arrest. But those warrants were for contempt of court, a civil violation, and experts said it would be difficult to extradite the Mastros without a criminal charge.

Then in August 2011, the U.S. Attorneys Office filed a sealed criminal complaint against the Mastros, charging them with bankruptcy fraud.

The complaint was made public last October after the Mastros were arrested near Lake Annecy, in the French Alps, where they had rented a succession of apartments.

The next month, a federal grand jury issued a superseding indictment containing 43 counts for bankruptcy fraud and money laundering.

The diamond rings, along with nearly 300 other pieces of jewelry, were seized in France in October after the Mastros were apprehended.

The collection is worth more than $3 million, according to the court-appointed trustee in Mastro’s bankruptcy case, James Rigby, who has recovered only a fraction of the money owed to creditors. The Mastros’ attorneys are fighting in court to stop the FBI from transferring some jewelry to the trustee.

The Mastros spent seven weeks in a French jail before a court placed them on supervised release with electronic monitoring pending an extradition proceeding.

Health concerns

In February, the three judges of the Court of Appeal in Chambéry ruled that the Mastros had been charged with offenses that were subject to extradition, but noted that lengthy incarceration likely would have serious consequences on their health.

The court’s 19-page ruling in February mentioned Mastro’s age and a serious head injury he suffered in a fall in Palm Desert, Calif., two years ago. The court also mentioned the “psychological frailty” of Linda Mastro, who is in her 60s, revealing that she attempted suicide shortly after the couple was arrested in France.

At a hearing in late May, the Justice Department’s representative told the French court that if the Mastros were extradited and convicted in the United States, they would not ask for more than two years in prison, Frush said Wednesday, citing information he received from Thomas Terrier, the Mastros’ attorney in France. Moreover, U.S. officials told the court the federal Bureau of Prisons was equipped to manage the Mastros’ health concerns, Frush said.

Terrier could not be immediately reached for comment.

Sorensen, the Northwestern University law professor, said the French government had discretion to extradite the Mastros despite the exception in the treaty, and said the Council of State had heard extradition appeals from the United States in the past.

Investor reaction

News of the French court’s ruling dismayed Kirkland resident Barry Bloch, one of the “Friends & Family” investors who loaned the developer money in return for pledges of interest payments.

“What a joke,” Bloch said after hearing from a reporter of the ruling.

Bloch and his wife, Teresa, loaned Mastro money and knew him for about four years before the developer’s fortunes unraveled.

“It didn’t bankrupt us, but it’s a sizable amount of money, and it’s disgusting that he isn’t brought to justice,” said Barry Bloch, 68.

He recalled an exchange with the developer at Mastro’s Seattle office on Rainier Avenue South as the real-estate market was imploding, but before the banks forced Mastro into bankruptcy court.

“I asked him how he sleeps at night, and he said, ‘I sleep like a baby.’ That spoke volumes,” Bloch said.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

————————————————————–

We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and France here.

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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International criminal defense questions, but want to be anonymous?

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“Megaupload founder wins access to evidence seized in raid”

June 3, 2013

Reuters on May 31, 2013 released the following:

“(Reuters) – A New Zealand court granted Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom access on Friday to all evidence seized by police in a 2012 raid, bolstering the Internet entrepreneur’s fight against extradition to the United States to face online piracy charges.

Repeating its decision that warrants used in the raid on Dotcom’s home were illegal, the High Court ruled that police must provide copies of evidence considered relevant to the U.S. investigation. These include materials forwarded to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Any evidence seized in the raid, including computers, hard drives, files, and other materials deemed irrelevant must be returned to the founder of the shuttered file-sharing site.

“The police are to review digital data storage devices and return any to the plaintiffs that contain no relevant material,” Justice Helen Winkelmann said in a statement. Police, she said, may retain other storage devices but had to “provide a clone of those devices to the plaintiffs”.

Acting on a request from U.S. authorities, New Zealand police arrested Dotcom and three colleagues.

Dotcom’s lawyers have argued that lack of access to the seized evidence put them at a disadvantage in defending the German national and his colleagues against extradition.

The United States has launched a criminal investigation into Megaupload, arguing that it facilitated online piracy, and participated in racketeering and money laundering.

Dotcom, who has New Zealand residency, says the site was merely a storage facility for online files and should not be held accountable if stored content was obtained illegally.

An extradition hearing is scheduled for August, but may be delayed due to separate cases linked to another court ruling that unlawful warrants were used in the police raid.

The copyright case could set a precedent for Internet liability laws and, depending on its outcome, may force entertainment companies to rethink their distribution methods.

The U.S. Justice Department says Megaupload cost copyright holders such as movie studios and record companies more than $500 million and generated more than $175 million in criminal proceeds. It described the case as being among the largest ever involving criminal copyright.

Dotcom launched a new file-sharing service, Mega, in January.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

————————————————————–

We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and New Zealand here.

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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International criminal defense questions, but want to be anonymous?

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“Former Guatemalan President Pleads Not Guilty After Extradition”

May 29, 2013

The Wall Street Journal on May 28, 2013 released the following press release:

“Samuel Rubenfeld
Wall Street Journal

A former Guatemalan president was extradited last Friday to New York to face money laundering charges, the latest in the Justice Department’s heightened efforts to get defendants detained internationally to face corruption charges.

Alfonso Portillo,who led Guatemala from 2000 to 2004, embezzled tens of millions of dollars in state assets, some of which he laundered through U.S. and European bank accounts, prosecutors alleged Tuesday.

Portillo pleaded not guilty on Tuesday in a hearing before U.S. District Judge Robert Patterson. If convicted, Portillo faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

He has long denied the allegations against him, telling CNN en Español in January the charges are a political witch-hunt borne of his opposition to the U.S.-led Iraq war.

“If deposits were made, they are deposits that first of all come from institutions that are not illicit,” he was quoted by CNN as saying. “In order for there to be laundering, the first requirement is that the money is from an illegal origin or comes from an illegal activity.”

Portillo’s extradition to the U.S. highlights a recently favored tool in corruption cases by law enforcement authorities, in which people are detained overseas and brought to the U.S. to face the charges against them.

The Justice Department built up its capacity and bolstered its relationships with foreign counterparts, allowing it to more frequently pursue cases and defendants internationally, said Peter Carr, a spokesman, in an email.

“The result is we are pursuing the extradition of more defendants, including high-profile defendants, such as [Viktor] Bout and Portillo,” Carr said.

However, the results of these efforts are somewhat mixed, based on a review of recent cases.

Bout was extradited and convicted, and sentenced to 25 years in prison. His associate was extradited to New York last week.

In January, a U.K. businessman was extradited, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in El Paso, Texas, federal court to three years behind bars for trying to help ship missile parts to Iran.

And in April 2012, the leader of a Mexican drug cartel was brought to the U.S. to face racketeering and money-laundering charges, for which he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

But prosecutors are struggling to bring a former Thai official to the U.S. to face money-laundering charges in a case that’s been stayed until March 2014, and their support to Bahamian authorities in another case still ended in failure.

In another case, prosecutors have been trying to extradite a South Korean man since 2009 to face U.S. foreign bribery charges, but court papers from the man’s lawyers say Seoul won’t do it because the people he’s accused of bribing aren’t considered public officials under local law.

Carr declined to comment on the Justice Department’s record of extradition.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

————————————————————–

We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and Guatemala here.

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

————————————————————–

International criminal defense questions, but want to be anonymous?

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Three Members of an Alleged International Cyber Fraud Ring Extradited from Romania to the United States

May 2, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on May 2, 2013 released the following:

“Romanian nationals Cristea Mircea, Ion Pieptea, and Nicolae Simion will make their first appearance before United States District Judge Edward R. Korman later today following their extradition to the United States from Romania. The defendants are charged with participating in a sophisticated multi-million-dollar cyber fraud scheme that targeted consumers on U.S.-based Internet marketplace websites such as eBay.com. Their extradition followed a coordinated international takedown in December 2012, during which law enforcement officials in Romania, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, and Canada, acting at the request of the United States, arrested six Romanian nationals, including Mircea, Pieptea and Simion. The Bucharest Appeals Court ordered the extraditions of Mircea, Pieptea, and Simion on February 2, 2013. The defendants were subsequently transported to the Eastern District of New York and arraigned on March 27, 2013.

The extraditions were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and George C. Venizelos, Assistant Director in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office

As alleged in the indictment, the defendants and their co-conspirators saturated Internet marketplace websites, such as eBay.com, Cars.com, AutoTrader.com, and CycleTrader.com, with detailed advertisements for cars, motorcycles, boats, and other high-value items generally priced in the $10,000 to $45,000 range. Unbeknownst to the buyers, however, the merchandise did not exist. The so-called sellers corresponded with the victim buyers by e-mail, sending fraudulent certificates of title and other information designed to lure the victims into parting with their money. Sometimes, they pretended to sell cars from non-existent auto dealerships in the United States and even created phony websites for these fictitious dealerships.

The indictment further describes how, after the purported sellers reached an agreement with the victim buyers, they would often e-mail them invoices purporting to be from Amazon Payments, PayPal, or other online payment services, with wire transfer instructions. However, these invoices were also fraudulent—the members of the conspiracy used counterfeit service marks in designing the invoices so that they would appear identical to communications from legitimate payment services. The fraudulent invoices directed the buyers to send money to American bank accounts that had been opened by foreign nationals in the United States, known as “arrows.” Finally, the arrows would collect the illicit proceeds and send them to the defendants in Europe by wire transfer and other methods. For example, the arrows forwarded defendant Pieptea $18,000 cash in fraud proceeds hidden inside hollowed-out audio speakers.

According to court filings, the defendants and their co-conspirators allegedly defrauded their victims of at least $2 million during the course of the conspiracy. Notwithstanding the scope of the fraud, however, one of the co-conspirators boasted, in a recorded conversation, that “criminals will not be extradited from Romania to the U.S.A….[I]t will never happen.”

Each defendant is charged with conspiracy to commit substantives offenses against the United States, wire fraud, and money laundering. The defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment on each count of conviction.

“These three defendants allegedly reached across the globe to defraud Americans, pretending to be legitimate online vendors and payment providers. In reality, they were con men with a computer. The defendants’ extraditions to the United States should make clear that our efforts to protect Internet consumers do not stop at our borders,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “Thanks to our strong international partnerships, the notion that cybercriminals will never be extradited to the United States is merely a criminal’s fantasy.” Ms. Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the FBI for its assistance.

The Romanian government, particularly the Ministry of Justice, the Romanian Internal Intelligence Service, and the Directorate for Combating Organized Crime, provided significant assistance and support during the investigation, arrest, and extradition of the defendants. The Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs worked with its counterparts in Romania to effect the extraditions, and the U.S. Marshals Service coordinated and transported the defendants to the United States.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Cristina Posa, Nadia Shihata, and Claire Kedeshian and Trial Attorney Carol Sipperly of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section.

The charges against the defendants are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Defendants:
Cristea Mircea, age 30, Romania
Ion Pieptea, age 36, Romania
Nicolae Simion, age 37, Romania”

Federal Wire Fraud Crimes – 18 U.S.C. 1343

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

————————————————————–

We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and Romania here.

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

————————————————————–

International criminal defense questions, but want to be anonymous?

Free Skype Tel: +1.202.470.3427, OR

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Mastros will fight extradition

October 26, 2012

The Seattle Times on October 26, 2012 released the following updated story:

“Former fugitives Michael R. and Linda Mastro have hired a French lawyer and intend to fight extradition to the U.S., their Seattle attorney said Thursday.

Bankruptcy fraud — the principal crime with which the former Seattle couple have been charged — may not be an offense subject to extradition under French law, James Frush said.

The Mastros, fugitives for 16 months, were arrested by French police at the request of the FBI shortly before 3 a.m. Seattle time Wednesday in a town on Lake Annecy, in the French Alps.

They appeared before a French judge Thursday and were ordered to remain in jail pending further proceedings, Frush said. Their next court appearance probably will be in about two weeks, he added.

Meanwhile, a federal grand jury in Seattle indicted the Mastros Thursday on 43 counts of bankruptcy fraud and money laundering — 37 more counts than they had been charged with previously in a criminal complaint issued in August 2011 that was the basis for their arrests.

Frush said the Mastros had been living in the Lake Annecy area for about a year. Le Dauphiné Libéré, a French newspaper, reported the Mastros had been renting a house under their own names in Doussard, on Lake Annecy.

The Mastros disappeared in June 2011 after failing to comply with a bankruptcy judge’s order that they turn over two giant diamond rings valued at $1.4 million. The judge later ruled the rings belonged to Michael Mastro’s creditors.

Mastro, 87, a longtime Seattle real-estate developer and lender, was pushed into one of Washington’s largest bankruptcies ever in 2009 after the recession undermined his real-estate empire.

His debts to unsecured creditors have been estimated at $250 million.

The new grand-jury indictment — product of a federal investigation that began nearly three years ago — charges that Mastro, anticipating bankruptcy, engaged in a series of illegal transactions aimed at putting several valuable assets off-limits to creditors.

Those assets included the rings and the Mastros’ Medina waterfront mansion, purchased for $15 million in 2006. A bankruptcy judge has since ruled the house, like the rings, rightfully belongs to creditors, and it has been sold.

The rings’ whereabouts still are unknown.

The Mastros also failed to disclose to court officials a bank account they used to make more than $761,000 in personal purchases after Mastro entered bankruptcy, the indictment says.

Those purchases included $107,000 in gold coins.

The indictment also alleges the Mastros made false statements about the assets under oath or penalty of perjury on numerous occasions.

Most of the information in the charges was developed by James Rigby, the court-appointed trustee charged with finding and liquidating Mastro’s assets and distributing them to creditors.

Frush said he doubts prosecutors can prove the Mastros engaged in an intentional scheme to defraud.

“Basically, they’re trying to criminalize activities that frequently occur in bankruptcy cases,” he said.

Federal officials said the Mastros flouted the law.

“The allegations against the Mastros are serious, and the FBI is committed to ensuring that they face those charges,” Steven Dean, assistant special agent in charge in the FBI’s Seattle office, said in a prepared statement.

Before the Mastros can be tried, however, they must be returned from France. And that may not be easy, or quick.

Bankruptcy fraud appears to be an offense subject to extradition under the treaty between the U.S. and France, said Douglas McNabb, an extradition attorney in Washington, D.C.

But if the Mastros exercise all their appeals, it could take a year or two before they are sent home, he added.

The treaty says people can be extradited if they are charged with crimes punishable by at least a year in prison in both countries. Bankruptcy fraud carries such a sentence in the U.S., McNabb said, but he’s not certain if it does in France.

When word of the Mastros’ arrest broke Wednesday, Joe and Gayle Colello, of Seattle, opened a good bottle of white wine that night and toasted the news.

They were among about 200 individual “Friends & Family” investors in Mastro’s ventures, loaning the real-estate magnate a total of about $100 million in return for pledges of above-market interest payments.

Most of that investment has disappeared. Investors have gotten back about a penny on the dollar so far, and Rigby has said they probably won’t get much more.

“I’m glad they got him,” Joe Colello said of Mastro Thursday.

“He’s really caused tremendous hardship to a lot of families. He’s a man without a conscience.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

————————————————————–

We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and France here.

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

————————————————————–

International criminal defense questions, but want to be anonymous?

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