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Former Democratic Official Arrested at Border Crossing on Fraud Charges

Indictment: North Carolina county chairman who vanished more than a year ago is accused on 15 federal counts. Authorities say he diverted millions.

October 05, 2002|From Associated Press

Federal authorities in San Diego said Friday that a former Mecklenburg County, N.C., Democratic chairman, Andrew Reyes, who vanished more than a year ago, was being held on federal bank fraud charges after his arrest at the Mexican border.

Agents arrested the former accountant without incident early Thursday after he entered the United States from Mexico at a San Diego border crossing, said U.S. Atty. Bob Conrad.

On Sept. 13, a federal grand jury in Charlotte, N.C., indicted Reyes on 15 counts of bank fraud. The indictment remained under seal until Reyes' arrest, Conrad said.

Reyes was scheduled to appear before a federal magistrate in San Diego, where the government will request that he be held, pending his extradition to Charlotte to face the bank fraud charges, Conrad said.

Keith Byers, an FBI agent in San Diego, said Reyes was driving through the Otay Mesa border crossing in San Diego when he was taken into custody.

Three other people--a man, a woman and child--also were in the vehicle, he said. They were not identified.

According to the indictment, Reyes had signature authority over a client's checking account at First Union National Bank, and he used that power to funnel large sums of money into his own accounts.

"Using that authority, he illegally diverted more than $3.6 million from accounts of his client to accounts he controlled," said Conrad, the federal prosecutor for the western district of North Carolina.

"On 15 separate occasions between March 1998 and March 2000, he transferred amounts in the six-figure range," Conrad said.

Each of the 15 counts carries a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $1-million fine, according to Conrad.

Byers said Reyes had been living in Tijuana.

Conrad declined to say whether any of the missing money had been recovered.

The money came from a First Union bank account of Aslan Construction, owned by Doug King.

King had previously co-owned a Charlotte building company, United Building Contractors, where Reyes had worked as treasurer.

King, 50, died in a motorcycle accident near his home in Hillsborough, N.H., in September 2000.

On May 4, 2001, Reyes told some of his friends he was leaving town on business. He drove away and was not seen again until his arrest on Thursday.

Reyes had been bankrupt in 1989, but less than a decade later, he was a major donor to Democratic candidates, mingling with Hollywood celebrities and then-President Clinton. In 1999, Gov. Jim Hunt named Reyes to his Advisory Council on Hispanic/Latino Affairs.

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