Agents Captures Ex-College President Facing Embezzlement Charges
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) _ A former college president accused of stealing millions in the church-affiliated school’s funds for prostitutes, gifts and investments was captured in California after failing to appear in court.
Lewis Nobles Jr., ousted in 1993 after 25 years as president of Mississippi College, was arrested at a San Francisco hotel about midnight Thursday, said Laura Henry, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Jackson office.
Nobles, who apparently flew to San Francisco from Memphis, Tenn., will be returned to Mississippi as soon as possible, Henry said today.
Nobles, 69, is charged with mail fraud, money laundering, tax evasion and transporting women across state lines for sex. His trial is due to begin Feb. 7.
Ten years after he became president, Nobles began siphoning off donations in 1978 and embezzled more than $3 million that he spent on prostitutes, gifts and investments, the FBI said. The statute of limitations permits authorities to go back only five years for prosecution.
Thursday’s hearing in U.S. District Court was to be on defense attempts to keep material found in Lewis’ office on Aug. 3, 1993, the day he resigned, from being used at the trial. U.S. District Judge William Barbour issued an arrest warrant when Nobles did not show.
Authorities say they found receipts for $2 million in donations the school business office says it never received; $27,844 in cash; books on how to hide money overseas; and a bottle of deadly strychnine.
Nobles has said the money went to needy students at Mississippi College, a Southern Baptist-affiliated school that is the oldest private college in the state.
Nobles’ wife and other family members said they last saw him Tuesday. They were cooperating with the FBI, said David W. Johnson, Jr., special agent in charge of the FBI for Mississippi.
The FBI found Nobles’ 1992 Oldsmobile in a Memphis airport Thursday night, Henry said. Authorities received permission from Nobles’ family to search the car before it was returned to his wife.