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Apr 5 - S. Fla. drug fugitive on the run for 22 years caught in Ecuador after he’s robbed

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 Apr 5 - S. Fla. drug fugitive on the run for 22 years caught in Ecuador after he’s robbed
Unread 3 years agoclass of '11 - away - #1
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South Florida fugitive Martin James Malone was busted after 22 years on the lam — when he fell victim to a crime himself.

Malone, 50, who jumped bond during his 1990 trial on drug trafficking charges in South Florida, was caught in Ecuador in February.

That’s when Malone, who says he was working construction jobs in that country, realized someone had broken into his car and stolen his wallet and cellphone. Malone set off to get a replacement driver’s license, but was stopped in La Libertad by police who were checking drivers’ documents, according to his own account and a local news report. He was arrested because he carried no valid identification papers.

“They take me to immigration because I’m a foreigner and they checked my fingerprints et cetera, and it came up through Interpol that I’m wanted,” he told U.S. District Judge William Zloch on Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale federal court.

Malone had sat with several co-defendants through most of his trial, but skipped out before closing arguments started on a Monday morning — Jan. 29, 1990 — in a federal courtroom in Miami. Despite his absence, the jury found him guilty of conspiring to import cocaine.

Malone pleaded guilty on Wednesday to jumping bond under a plea agreement he reached with federal prosecutors.

When the judge asked whether he understood the charges, Malone replied: “It’s pretty obvious, your honor, I’ve been on the run for 22 years.”

Malone faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for the bond-jumping charge when he is sentenced on May 31, but he will also be sentenced for the cocaine conspiracy conviction, which carries a prison term of 10 years to life. By law, Malone must serve the sentences consecutively rather than concurrently, prosecutor Dustin Davis said.

Zloch, who is known for requiring defendants to make a full confession when they plead guilty, quizzed Malone about how he lived on the run.

Malone told the judge that he has a common-law wife, a child and a stepdaughter in Ecuador. He also said that he sometimes used his older brother’s name, Jack Daniel Malone.

“Mr. Malone, I’m afraid we can’t give you bond anymore,” Zloch good-humoredly told the handcuffed and shackled Malone as he was getting ready to return to the Broward County main jail.

“Oh, I understand,” Malone said with a smile.

Earlier, before his federal public defender Daryl Wilcox arrived, Malone amiably informed the prosecutor that his name has consistently been wrong on the court docket since he was first charged in 1989.

“I guess they’ve had it like that the last 20 years . . . I guess it’s all the same,” Malone said, gesturing at the records, which read “James Martin Malone.”

But a lot of things have changed since Malone took off, and the judge, prosecutor and defense lawyer spent several minutes trying to remember when various statutes became law and which legal rules would apply. The original indictment looks like it was written on a typewriter, and much of the criminal file will have to be tracked down from archives and scanned into the present computerized system.

According to press reports at the time, Malone and a dozen other men were charged in a plot to bring several thousand pounds of cocaine from Colombia to Miami. Coast Guard crews had spotted 70-pound bales of the drug floating in the ocean near a Danish freighter, the Nerma, and being loaded onto three speedboats and a fishing boat near the Bahamas on Sept. 9, 1989.

Malone’s original court-appointed lawyer, Eric Cohen, said Wednesday that he remembers the case very clearly because “it wasn’t too amusing” when he found out on the morning of closing arguments that his client had disappeared. The trial judge, Stanley Marcus, who has since been promoted to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, told him to go ahead with his closing argument, though it felt like he was defending an empty chair in the courtroom.

“It was a little strange not being able to turn around and point to my client and say, ‘Please acquit him,’ ” Cohen said. The jury convicted Malone of the conspiracy charge, but acquitted him of actually importing the drug.

Malone’s sister, Barbara Sherman, of Charlotte, N.C., said the family knows he is guilty of jumping bond, but always believed he did not get a fair shake during his 1990 trial.

“The kid ran — he was looking at 25 years,” Sherman said. “He was a law-abiding citizen all this time in Ecuador.”

Malone, who grew up in Miami Gardens and later lived in Miami with his now-deceased mother, lost that home and at least $75,000 that another sister put up for his bond when he fled to Ecuador, where his then-wife lived, Sherman said.

Malone was arrested in Ecuador the night before his 86-year-old father died in Sebastian, Fla., Sherman said. “My dad died thinking he was OK because he’d managed to call him before he died.”

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5 comments for "Apr 5 - S. Fla. drug fugitive on the run for 22 years caught in Ecuador after he’s robbed"

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Unread 3 years agoclass of '11 - away - #2
keejee 131 heat pts131 space
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '07 - away - #3
Damagegadget 411 heat pts411 space
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wonder if he is one of them cocaine cowboys that was still on the run
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '09 - away - #4
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why would you go to ecuador if they cooperate with interpol? interpol cooperates with
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '07 - away - #5
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damn Karma real
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '05 - away - #6
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what happened to the statue of limitations
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