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July 15, 2010

Defendant fled to Mexico prior to sentencing in 2004

(HOUSTON) - Harris Dempsey “Butch” Ballow, 67, formerly of Galveston County, Texas, has been charged with conspiracy and wire fraud in a two-count indictment by a Houston grand jury, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. The indictment was returned today.  

Ballow was a fugitive from justice in the United States for more than five years until his arrest on Tuesday, July 13, 2010, by agents of the Mexican Agencia Federal de Investigaciones (AFI) working closely with the FBI pursuant to a Provisional Arrest Warrant. Ballow remains in custody in Mexico City awaiting extradition to the United States. 

Originally indicted in federal court in Houston in 2003 for fraud and money laundering centering on misrepresentations made in connection with the purchase and sale of stock, Ballow pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge David Hittner to money laundering in November. At the time, Ballow, who had been in custody without bond for approximately a year, agreed to cooperate with an Securities and Exchange Commission investigation and was released on a $100,000 bond pending his sentencing set for Dec. 16, 2004. However, facing 10 years imprisonment, Ballow failed to appear for the sentencing and fled the country. A warrant for Ballow's arrest issued the next day, Dec. 17, 2004. 

According to allegations in today’s indictment, Ballow lived under the names John Gel, Tom Brown and Marty Twinley during his time as a fugitive and also acquired a British passport in the name of Melvyn John Gelsthorpe. The indictment alleges Ballow used these names to take control of publicly-traded United States corporations, including E-SOL International Corp., Medra Corp., Deep Earth Resources Inc. and Aztec Technology Partners Inc. - now called Ultimate Lifestyles Corporation - and sold the stock to investors without revealing his true identity, his use of multiple names, his past convictions for fraud and money laundering and his status as fugitive from justice in the United States.

The indictment  further alleged that Ballow moved to Puerto Aventuras, Mexico, in 2008, but disappeared in July 2009, just days after convincing an American investor from Texas to wire transfer $5 million to E-SOL in Reno, Nev. In October 2009, the indictment alleges Ballow reappeared in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where he lived in a luxurious golf resort and was arrested by Mexican federal police on July 13, 2010.

The conspiracy and wire fraud charges each carry a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years and a fine of not more than $250,000.

The charges leading to this indictment are the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service in conjunction with federal, state and local Mexican law enforcement officials. Assistant U.S. Attorney John R. Lewis will be prosecuting the case.



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