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Fugitive accused of embezzling $1m found

The former president of a wine tasting network who allegedly embezzled nearly $1m from the Californian Wine Company has been found hiding in Mexico after months on the run.

Martin Christopher Edwards
Martin Christopher Edwards

According to a report by Decanter.com, FBI agents and Mexican immigration officials arrested Martin Christopher Edwards last week after finding him hiding out in Puerto Vallerta on the Mexican riviera.

The 48-year-old, from Napa in California, has been on the run in Mexico since he was indicted in June 2013 charged with embezzling $900,0000 while working as vice president and general manager of the Winetasting Network.

Martin Christopher Edwards allegedly stole £575,000 by submitting fake invoices under a fictitious company, Dufrane Compliance Trust, according to the US Attorney’s Office.

According to federal prosecutors, Edwards created fraudulent invoices and directed the Winetasting Network, now known as winetasting.com, to pay a total of £575k to Dufrane Compliance Trust between May 2010 and October 2012.

He then withdrew the funds to buy items for his personal use, including a BMW.

He may have chosen to name his fictitious company “Dufrane” after the protagonist in the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption, Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins, who escapes from prison after nearly two decades by tunnelling through his cell wall with a rock hammer.

Edwards was due to appear appear in court yesterday, 22 January, according to a statement from by the FBI, charged with 23 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.

If convicted he could face up to 30 years in prison and fines of £320,000.

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