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Fugitive on FBI's 10 Most Wanted list faces Tuesday court date

Eric Justin Toth of the U.S. is escorted after a presentation to the media at police headquarters building in Managua April 22, 2013. REUTER
Eric Justin Toth of the U.S. is escorted after a presentation to the media at police headquarters building in Managua April 22, 2013. REUTER

By Ian Simpson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former Washington schoolteacher on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list for child pornography is scheduled to appear in a U.S. court on Tuesday after being extradited from Nicaragua, officials said.

The man, Eric Justin Toth, 31, was arrested on Saturday in Esteli, a city some 90 miles north of Managua, after almost five years on the run and faces an initial appearance in Washington's U.S. District Court.

"This is just one more example that, hopefully, will send a message to criminals that you can't run far enough to get away from federal law enforcement," Rod Rosenstein, the U.S. attorney for Maryland, told a news conference.

Nicaraguan police who arrested Toth said he had been caught with a fake U.S. passport, a fake driving license, and fake bank and credit cards.

Toth had taught at Beauvoir, a private elementary school at the National Cathedral, and had also worked as a camp counselor. He had been a fugitive since the District of Columbia and Maryland issued arrest warrants in 2008.

He is alleged to have had a school camera in his possession in June 2008 that had pornographic images on it. He is also charged with producing child pornography in Maryland.

Ronald Machen, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, told reporters Toth would face a federal child pornography production charge shortly.

Valerie Parlave, assistant director of the FBI field office in Washington, said that "an aware and astute individual" had tipped off authorities to Toth's whereabouts two days before his arrest.

She said it was unclear how long he had been in Nicaragua or how he had been supporting himself. Nicaraguan police have said that Toth entered the country in February.

On its website, the FBI said Toth had often been described as a computer expert and was able to integrate himself into social groups. He was added to the Most Wanted list in April 2012.

A U.S. federal law enforcement source had said Toth was last seen in 2009 at an Arizona homeless shelter where he had briefly lived and worked as a volunteer. The shelter alerted authorities and Toth vanished, the source said.

Toth attended Cornell University for a year and then transferred to Purdue University, where he earned an education degree, the FBI said.

The maximum penalty for production of child pornography is 30 years in prison; the maximum sentence for possession of child pornography is 20 years.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Leslie Gevirtz)

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