A fugitive on the loose for more than two years following her conviction in a $1.9 billion corporate fraud case was back in the United States Wednesday following her arrest in a Mexican resort town where the government said she often went out dancing and consulted an anti-aging specialist.
The Justice Department said Wednesday that Mexican authorities arrested Rebecca Parrett based on information provided by U.S. marshals in Columbus.
Parrett, 62, was arrested in Ajijic, a resort town in the Mexican state of Jalisco. She was expected in federal court in Los Angeles before returning to Columbus.
Parrett disappeared in March 2008 following her conviction on securities fraud, wire fraud and other charges in a scheme at health care financing company National Century Financial Enterprises. A judge sentenced her to 25 years in prison in absentia.
It was unclear who was representing Parrett. Gregory Peterson, her trial attorney, withdrew from the case after filing a standard appeal. He told The Associated Press Wednesday he's not sure if she has an attorney at the moment but he would represent her if asked by the federal judge overseeing the case.
National Century, formerly based in Dublin in suburban Columbus, was raided by the FBI in 2002. At least nine former executives were later convicted of corporate fraud charges in a scandal prosecutors compared to Enron and WorldCom. Parrett was the firm's vice chairman.
Parrett was last known to have lived in Carefree, Ariz.
Before she disappeared, Parrett put aside almost $400,000 in a bank account unknown to her trial attorney. A federal judge ordered the money seized after its discovery last year.
In July, a federal judge sentenced her sister to six months in prison Friday for lying to federal investigators searching for Parrett. Investigators said Linda Case had been communicating with Parrett by e-mail, but several times told deputy U.S. marshals she did not know where Parrett was and had not been in contact with her. They also said Case was arrested days before she had planned to leave for Mexico to be with Parrett.
Parrett was using a false name and telling others in Ajijic she fled the United States after testifying against lawyers who stole from pension funds, the government said Wednesday.
"During her time as a fugitive, Parrett was known to go out dancing in the resort area, and was believed to be receiving treatment from a Mexican anti-aging specialist," the government said.
Despite that carefree image, the criminal complaint against Parrett's sister also hinted at a woman struggling with her fugitive's existence.
"I have moved twice because of fear of someone recognizing me," Parrett told Case in a Sept. 21, 2009 e-mail.
Parrett also didn't have an ID of any kind, and discussed ways with her sister to get money, according to other e-mails.
The search by U.S. marshals for Parrett involved more than a dozen states and several countries. The FBI had offered a reward of up to $10,000 for her arrest. In January 2009 she was the featured fugitive on the "America's Most Wanted" Web site, http://www.amw.com.
"Even fugitives with great financial resources willing to flee the country for years as she did will always have to look over their shoulder," said U.S. Marshal Cathy Jones.
Associated Press writer Doug Whiteman contributed to this report
(This version CORRECTS Corrects spelling of Mexican town 'Ajijic.' in 3rd, 9th paragraphs This story is part of AP's general news and financial services.)