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Couple charged with bankruptcy fraud to fight extradition to US

Published: Friday, Oct. 26, 2012 8:25 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — SEATTLE — 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 crime with which the former Seattle couple has been charged — may not be an offense subject to extradition under French law, James Frush said.

The Mastros, fugitives for 16 months, were arrested Wednesday by French police at the request of the FBI.

They appeared before a French judge Thursday and were ordered detained pending further proceedings, Frush said.

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 the arrrests.

Le Dauphine Libere, a French newspaper, reported in its Thursday edition that the Mastros had been renting a house under their own names in Doussard, a town in the French Alps on Lake Annecy. Doussard is northeast of Chambery.

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

Michael Mastro, 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.

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