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Wine fugitive wanted on embezzlement charges found in Mexico

A fugitive wanted on charges of embezzling close to $1m at the California wine company that he used to work for has been found in Mexico and deported back to the US.

FBI agents and Mexican immigration officials arrested Martin Christopher Edwards last week, after they found him hiding out near the Hacienda Escondida Private Villas in Puerto Vallerta on the Mexican riviera.

The 48-year-old, from Napa, California, has spent more than half a year on the run in Mexico after being indicted in June 2013 for embezzling approximately $900,000 while working as vice president and general manager of the Wine Tasting Network.

He has now been returned to the US for trial and was due to appear in court today (22 January), the FBI said in a statement.

He is officially charged with 23 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering, and could face several decades in prison if convicted.

It is alleged that between May 2010 and October 2012 he directed the Wine Tasting Network to pay funds into a fictitious company called Dufrane Compliance Trust. He bought a BMW car with the money, among other personal treats, the FBI alleged.

Edwards failed to appear at an initial hearing at the US District Court in San Francisco on 17 June.

Separately, several US media outlets reported this month that 1-800 Flowers has sold its Wine Tasting Network ecommerce business to a St Louis-based investment firm named TSG. Financial details have not been disclosed.

Written by Chris Mercer

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