MIAMI (AP) — A fugitive from Miami who has been on the run for almost 20 years is back in federal custody after he was arrested in Nicaragua.
Robert Allen Lopez, 49, was arrested on Nov. 14, 2015, and deported to Miami on Saturday by a team of deputy U.S. Marshals. According to Barry Golden, who is a spokesman for the Marshals Service, Lopez was deported because he crossed into Nicaragua by foot and was in the country illegally.
In December of 1995, Lopez pleaded guilty to federal Medicare fraud charges. Lopez established fake companies that filed false Medicare claims totaling more than $4.3 million on behalf of patients for services that were unnecessary or never provided. Lopez was released on bail on the condition that he would not leave the area without permission. In 1997, he was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of failure to appear for sentencing.
Lopez eluded capture in Mexico in 2000. After his son was found wandering the streets of Cancun, Mexico, and taken into custody, a person claiming to be the 10-year old's uncle came to visit. Mexican police identified that person as Lopez after obtaining his fingerprints from a cup. When Lopez fled the country, he took his two children with him but left his wife behind. Miami Dade Police later charged Lopez with interference with the custody of a child. Lopez's son returned to the U.S. in March of 2000 and returned to his mother. Marshals said the other child, a girl, was recovered before the boy.
Golden said the capture of Lopez was due to the efforts of the State Department, Department of Health and Human Services (who handled the original Medicare fraud investigation) and the Marshals Service. Lopez was originally arrested in Nicaragua by the Nicaraguan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"The arrest of Robert Allen Lopez demonstrates the commitment of the U.S. Marshals and our federal, state and local partners to pursue those wanted on an international level," said U.S. Marshal Amos Rojas Jr. in a statement. "Crossing global boundaries to avoid prosecution is no longer a viable option with the substantial resources and law enforcement cooperation in place."
Lopez will appear before a federal magistrate on Monday. According to Golden, Lopez will eventually appear before U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King, who was supposed to sentence him on the federal Medicare charges more than 20 years ago.