August 3, 2013

Fugitive who fled N.H. trial 30 years ago is captured

After Robert Wade ran away during his trial for a 1982 burglary, he was convicted in absentia.

The Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. — A man who fled New Hampshire in the middle of his burglary trial 30 years ago has finally been apprehended and sent to prison.

"Justice was delayed, but not denied," Hillsborough Country Attorney Patricia LaFrance said Friday.

Robert Wade, 55, was arrested by police in Brockton, Mass., in January. He was using an alias, but eventually was linked to the decades-old crime in Manchester. But he fought being sent to New Hampshire and, once extradited, asserted that he wasn't the Robert Wade who was convicted in absentia in Hillsborough Superior Court. His sentencing in May was postponed until this week so prosecutors could amass evidence to prove his identity.

LaFrance said not only did her office have on file fingerprints taken from the crime scene and after Wade's arrest, but obtained recordings of recent jailhouse phone conversations Wade had in which he repeatedly acknowledged he was the same Robert Wade who had been convicted three decades earlier.

Wade was convicted of burglary for breaking into the home of a young Manchester mother in February 1982. LaFrance said the victim was notified that he was in custody and would be sentenced Thursday, but said she did not want to be in court.

Wade was sentenced to 7 and a half to 15 years in prison.

"It's nice to see that some people are caught up with," LaFrance said. "They can't run away forever, but it can be 10 years, 20 years, even 30."

"Sometimes it's just pure luck, and in this case I think it was," said LaFrance, who wasn't sure what Wade was charged with in Brockton, but said those charges were dropped to clear the way for extradition.

She said the people who wonder aloud why it took so long to bring Wade to justice don't appreciate her office has hundreds of fugitive files.

"To be actively searching for hundreds of people just doesn't happen because of lack of resources," LaFrance said. "Think about the Whitey Bulger case - on the FBI's most wanted list and the most hunted for man in the country - and look how long it took them."

Wade's case was the second in which a decades-old fugitive was brought to justice in Hillsborough County.

In May, law enforcement officials announced the trial and conviction in Greece of 45-year-old Steven Kamberidis, who fled the day before he was convicted in Nashua on 1991 of beating to death his 2-year-old stepson. Kamberidis is serving an 18-year sentence in Greece, which does not extradite suspects to the United States.


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