April 23, 2013

Fugitive on most-wanted list held

Eric Justin Toth is caught in Nicaragua and was being deported to the United States immediately.

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Police in Nicaragua have detained a former U.S. school teacher who was on the FBI’s 10 most-wanted fugitives list as a suspect in a child pornography investigation, authorities confirmed Monday.

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Eric Justin Toth is detained by Nicaraguan authorities on Monday after being caught Saturday. Toth was on the FBI’s 10 most-wanted fugitives list as a child pornography suspect.

The Associated Press

Eric Justin Toth was detained Saturday in Esteli, a city near Nicaragua’s border with Honduras, and will be immediately deported to the United States, said National Police chief Aminta Granera.

“Toth will be deported immediately because he was in our country illegally,” Granera said at a news conference in Managua.

She said Toth entered Nicaragua with a false passport and also had a fake driver’s license and credit cards.

Toth was being handed over to FBI agents who were at the news conference and they planned to take him to the United States in a special plane, Granera said.

A thin and nervous-looking Toth dressed in cream-colored shirt and pants was briefly shown to journalists and photographers, but he wasn’t allowed to talk and was quickly taken away.

Granera said Toth first entered Nicaragua on Oct. 24, 2012, and left on Jan. 27. He returned on Feb. 12 and that’s when Nicaraguan police began keeping a close watch, she said.

“He was captured in a house in the Panama Soberana neighborhood in Esteli, even though he resisted,” Granera said.

Toth taught third grade at Beauvoir, a private elementary school on the grounds of the Washington National Cathedral. He was escorted off campus in June 2008 after another teacher reported finding sexually explicit photographs on a school camera in Toth’s possession. He had not been seen since he lost his job.

In a statement, the school commended the work of U.S. authorities.

“We commend the work of the Office of the U.S. Attorney and the FBI for their ongoing efforts to apprehend Mr. Toth. They have been tenacious and resolute in their quest to bring this case to justice,” it said.

Toth was added to the FBI’s most-wanted list in April 2012 for allegedly possessing and producing child pornography, giving him notoriety normally reserved for people sought in connection with violent crimes or terrorism.

Osama bin Laden and purported Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger have both been featured on that list, but the FBI said it put Toth on because there were no reliable clues as to his whereabouts and because his Internet skills and alleged penchant for grooming children made him especially dangerous.

Authorities found Toth’s car at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in August 2008 with a note suggesting he’d committed suicide in a nearby lake. But no body was found.

The FBI, which had been offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to Toth’s arrest, said he was believed to have traveled to Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota. It said Toth is originally from Hammond, Ind., and is a graduate of Purdue University.

Toth is thought to have lived in Arizona in 2009.

The bureau had said that Toth might have been advertising as a tutor or a male nanny and using the alias of David Bussone.

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