South Dakota man arrested for wire fraud after fleeing US

December 31, 2018

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota man accused of running a fraud scheme came under investigation at least a decade ago and allegedly fled to Guatemala, according to recently unsealed court records.

David Astin was apprehended in October in Houston after he arrived on a commercial flight from Guatemala, the Rapid City Journal reported . The 36-year-old Astin is being held at the Pennington County Jail in Rapid City and has pleaded not guilty to 21 counts of federal wire fraud.

IRS secretly filed search warrant applications for Astin in 2012 and 2014. The documents were unsealed in November during Astin’s detention hearing. The 2012 warrant sought access to Astin’s computer files while the 2014 warrant sought access to his email account.

Investigators allege Astin falsified returns on foreign-currency trades he made for a Rapid City doctor from 2012 to 2013. Astin allegedly lost more than $430,000 of the doctor’s money while collecting $75,500 in compensation, according to the indictment.

Officials began investigating Astin’s financial activities in 2008, after he and his parents, Ward and Debra Astin, were charged with 20 felony counts each for failing to get a state sales-tax license for a business.

Ward Astin pleaded no contest to failing to obtain the license in a deal that dismissed the charges against his wife and son. He was also ordered to pay about $60,000 in restitution.

David Astin went to Guatemala, where his wife is from, with his family shortly after an FBI interview in 2014 that came after the IRS investigations, according to FBI agent Michael McRoden. Astin stretched his two-week stay into four years by using immigration laws to renew his tourist visa, McRoden said.

David Astin’s time in Guatemala indicates that he could potentially flee again, said Ben Patterson, the assistant U.S. attorney who is prosecuting the case.


Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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