Supreme Court frees American man waiting for extradition on fraud scheme charges

    An American man wanted for fraud in the United States has been freed by the Supreme Court in Tonga.

    Lord Chief Justice Paulsen set aside a magistrate’s court ruling that Antone Thomas Pedras be held  in custody until he was extradited to the US.

    Pedras, also known as Chris Pedras and Christopher A.T. Pedras, was wanted on charges of defrauding investors  of  more than  USS$5 million.

    The United States has sought his extradition from Tonga under the  Extradition Act  so he could stand trial on 11 counts of wire  fraud,   which  is  an offence against Title  18,  United States Code, section   1343.

    On 19 April 2016 the Magistrates’ Court made  an  order  that  Pedras be committed to await his return to the United States  of America to stand trial on April 19.

    Pedras sought to have the decision overturned by application for habeus corpus under section 10  of the Act.

    In essence, extradition is allowed if the crime of which the person is accused in one country can be shown to be also a crime in another. This is termed a relevant offence.

    The Crown claimed that  wire  fraud  was  a  relevant  offence  because  it was “the same  or  similar  to  the  offence  of  obtaining  by false  pretences under section  164 of the  Criminal  Offences Act.”

    Section 164 says that “Every person who by any false pretence obtains for himself or for any other person any money, valuable  security  or other  thing whatever  shall be liable to the same punishment as if he had committed    theft.”

    Lord Chief justice Paulsen rejected this argument.

    “The  requirements   in  section   1343  that  the  accused   devised   or  is intending  to  devise  any  scheme  or  artifice  to  defraud  and  makes  a transmission  by  wire  (which  I shall  use  as  shorthand  for  wire,  radio or    television    communication)     are    absent    from    section     164,” the judge said.

    “The   requirement   in   section   164   that   the   accused obtains  for  himself  or  another  any  money,  valuable  security  or  other thing  is  not  present  in section  1343,  where  the  offence  is completed upon  the  making  of  the  transmission  by  wire  regardless  of  whether the fraudulent  scheme  or artifice  profits the accused.

    “The  offence of obtaining by false pretences under section 164 requires that it be proved that the accused has by making the false pretence obtained some money, valuable security or other thing.”

    This  was  not a requirement of the offence of wire fraud under section 1343.

    The judge therefore set aside  the  order  committing  Mr.  Pedras  to  custody  for  return  to the   United   States   of   America   to   stand   trial and he was immediately released.

    The main points

    • An American man wanted for fraud in the United States has been freed by the Supreme Court in Tonga.
    • Lord Chief Justice Paulsen set aside a magistrate’s court ruling that Antone Thomas Pedras be held in custody until he was extradited to the US.
    • Pedras, also known as Chris Pedras and Christopher A.T. Pedras, was wanted on charges of defrauding investors of  more than  USS$5 million.
    • The United States has sought his extradition from Tonga under the Extradition Act  so he could stand trial on 11 counts of wire  fraud,   which  is  an offence against Title  18,  United States Code, section

    1 COMMENT

    1. Tuku ange ʻe he Fakamaauʻanga Lahi ʻa Tongá e tangata ʻAmelika naʻe fiemaʻu mei he Puleʻanga Fakatahataha ʻAmeliká ke ʻoange ke hopoʻi ki he maʻu ʻo ha paʻanga he founga kākā.

      Naʻe fakatatafe ʻe he ʻEiki Fakamaau Lahí Paulsen e tuʻutuʻuni ʻa e fakamaau polisí ke tauhi ʻe he kau polisí ʻa Antone Thomas Pedras kae ʻoua leva ke fakafoki ki ʻAmelika.

      ʻOku toe ʻiloa ʻa Pedras ko Chris Pedras pe Christopher A.T.Pedras pea naʻe fiemaʻu ia ko ʻene kakaaʻi ha kau ʻinivesitoa ʻo laka hake ʻi he paʻanga ʻAmelika ʻe 5 miliona.

      Naʻe kole ʻa e kau maʻu mafai ʻAmeliká ki Tonga ke ʻoange fakapuleʻanga muʻa ʻa Pedras ke hopoʻi ʻo fakatatau ki he lao fakafoki fakapuleʻanga koeʻuhī kae lava ke hopoʻi ia ki he hia ʻe 11 ki he kākaaʻi ʻo ha paʻanga fakafou ʻi he ʻinitanetí.

      Ka ne ʻikai tali ia ʻe he fakamaau fakatatau mo e ngaahi taukapo ʻa e loea ʻa Pedras.

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