Source: 5/17/2014

Wife of TelexFree Co-Owner Arrested While Trying to Flee Country

May 15, 2014 -- Federal Agents arrested TelexFree co-owner Carlos Wanzeler's wife, Katia, at JFK International Airport as she was about to board a flight with a one-way ticket to Brazil on Wednesday night.

Carlos Wanzeler drove into Canada as agents raided the TelexFree offices in April and flew to Brazil two days later.

A court document released on Thursday alleged that Ms. Wanzeler misled investigators about her husband's whereabouts and participated in moving huge sums of money out of TelexFree bank accounts.

When Homeland Security Investigations agents visited the Wanzeler family home on April 17, Katia wanzeler told them that her husband was staying at a hotel. In reality, he had already left the country.

TelexFree filed for federal bankruptcy protection on April 13. In February, a total of $3.5 milion was moved from a TelexFree bank account into one in Katia Wanzeler's name. On April 11, Ms. Wanzeler and TelexFree co-owner James Merrill allegedly went to a bank in Connecticut to obtain more than $27 million in cashier's checks. One of the checks, for more than $2 million, was made out to Katia Wanzeler.

At a federal court hearing in Brooklyn on Thursday, Ms. Wanzeler was denied bail. Her lawyer said she had no reason to flee the country and had been planning to return at the end of the month. The prosecutor informed the judge that Wanzeler had checked four suitcases weighting 70 pounds and was carrying $3,000 in cash. The judge ordered that Wanzeler remain in the custody of U.S. Marshals to ensure that she appears before a grand jury next week.

Carlos Wanzeler and James Merrill have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and could be sentenced to 20 years in prison if found guilty. Wanzeler, who has dual U.S. and Brazilian citizenship, entered Brazil using a Brazilian passport. Brazilian authorities have refused to return him to the United States because the U.S. does not have an extradition treaty with Brazil.

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