Your delicatessen in Paulsboro, NJ
A former fugitive wanted on charges of manipulating criminal actions related to a New Jersey grocery store that was losing money, once valued at $100 million, has agreed to be extradited from Thailand to the United States, Thai authorities said.
Peter Coker Jr., 54, was arrested last week by Thai police in the resort town of Phuket, more than three months after he, his father, Peter Coker Sr., and an associate, James Patten, were charged in federal court in New Jersey. .
The 12-count complaint alleges financial crimes related to two publicly traded companies, International hometownwho owned only a modest grocery store now closed in Paulsboro, New Jersey, and Electronic wastea front company that had no assets.
Coker Jr., an American who recently lived and worked as a businessman in Hong Kong, is being held in a Bangkok jail for several weeks ahead of his scheduled extradition, The Associated Press reported on Friday.
Thai police, in a statement, said Coker Jr. entered the country on a passport issued by the Caribbean island of St. Kitts and Nevis. This nation sells citizenship in exchange for investments there, the AP noted.
“Mr. Coker Jr. voluntarily consented to be extradited to the United States, which simplified the legal process in court,” Teerat Limpayaraya, a prosecutor with Thailand’s attorney general’s office, told the AP.
“We have to complete a 30-day waiting period as required by Thai law before sending it back,” Teerat said.
The prosecutor also told the AP that Coker Jr. “was visibly frail when he was taken away and told us he needed medical treatment for his liver disease.”
“We believe he entered Thailand with a possible plan to settle here,” Teerat said.
U.S. prosecutors accuse the Cokers and Patten of a scheme to increase the value of shares of Hometown International and E-Waste, which both had high market capitalizations despite holding little or no valuable assets, to make them more attractive to private companies as merger candidates. The two companies then found merger partners.
Coker Jr. had served as president of Hometown International.
While Pattan and Coker Sr. have appeared in court since their arrest, Coker Jr. was believed to be at large until his arrest last week.
A spokesperson for the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office, which is prosecuting the case, confirmed Coker Jr.’s arrest in Thailand, but declined to comment further.
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