Lee County Fugitive Extradited From Romania
Facing Federal Charges
OXFORD, Miss. – John Marshall Alexander, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi, Daniel McMullen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Mississippi, and Jeff Woodfin, Acting United States Marshal for the Northern District of Mississippi, announce that:
Thomas Lowell Ketchum, 53, of Saltillo, Mississippi, a fugitive who has been hiding out in Romania since he was investigated by the FBI in 2005, has been arrested and extradited to the United States to face charges stemming from an indictment that was returned against him by a grand jury in March of 2006.
Ketchum, who appeared before United States Magistrate Judge David A. Sanders in Oxford yesterday, faces charges of possession of firearms by a convicted felon, possession, with the intent to defraud, of more than 15 unauthorized credit cards, and possession of a United States passport and social security number without lawful authority. He was remanded to the temporary custody of the U.S. Marshal, pending an arraignment and detention hearing on March 31, 2011.
Following a diligent search by U.S. authorities, and in coordination with the Romanian authorities and the U.S. State Department, Ketchum was arrested in Romania in September 2010. He has been in Romanian custody since that time, fighting extradition. Following the exhaustion of all appeals, Romanian officials agreed to extradition, and Deputy U.S. Marshals traveled to Romania last week to return Ketchum to the United States.
Daniel McMullen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Mississippi, stated: “Those accused of criminal conduct should not fool themselves into thinking they can flee the United States to avoid prosecution. Nor should they believe that the passage of time will protect them from apprehension. The FBI’s role is not to determine guilt or innocence. Our role in fugitive matters is to bring the accused before the appropriate court and allow the judicial process to take its course. For over five years, Special Agents and Task Force Agents of the FBI and Deputy U.S. Marshals persevered in their efforts to locate and apprehend this subject. Ketchum’s arrest and return to the United States is the result of cooperation and coordination between the Romanian authorities, the United States Department of State, and federal law enforcement in the state of Mississippi.”
According to the indictment, Ketchum used the name and social security number of his deceased brother to obtain multiple credit cards and a United States passport, all without lawful authority, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Sections 1028(a)(6) and 1029(a)(3). It is also alleged in the indictment that Ketchum was a previously-convicted felon in possession of four firearms, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 922(g)(1).
United States Attorney John Marshall Alexander stated: “The successful apprehension and return of Mr. Ketchum to the United States is a prime example of how diligence and cooperation among law enforcement entities can bring about desired results. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is grateful to the FBI and the U.S. Marshals for their persistence in discovering the whereabouts of this individual, and thus ensuring that this important case, involving multiple instances of fraud, is brought to completion. ”
If convicted on all counts, Ketchum faces up to 35 years in prison, up to $750,000 in fines, and up to nine years supervised release.
A copy of the indictment is attached. An indictment is merely a charge and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
This case is being investigated by Special Agents and Task Force Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the United States Marshal Service, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Paul Roberts.
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