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November 26, 2014

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Law Enforcement:

DA’s decision not to extradite bail-jumper in child porn case mystifies bondsman

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Joe Schoenmann

Police mugshots of Ekkalux Chairuangdej, accused of nine counts of possessing child pornography in Clark County and thought to be on the run in Thailand.

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Steve Wolfson

Sun coverage

The district attorney’s decision not to seek extradition of a man alleged to have possessed child pornography is puzzling a bail bondsman and a Clark County commissioner, especially since the bondsman wants to pay all extradition-related expenses.

“Spending a few thousand dollars is a lot better than losing all $27,000,” said Gino Caruso, owner of Goodfellas Bail Bonds, 513 S. Main St.

Through a spokesman, District Attorney Steve Wolfson said the Justice Department advised his office that in this case, involving Ekkalux Chairuangdej, “the country we would be seeking to extradite the defendant from would be reluctant to turn over one of their citizens to face these charges.”

“Extradition requests take a lot of time and effort and often significant cost,” the spokesman said via email. “Each possible extradition case is carefully considered and decisions are based on a variety of factors.”

Chairuangdej was charged in late June 2011 with nine felony counts of possession of child pornography. According to a criminal complaint filed in Las Vegas Township Justice Court, Chairuangdej is alleged to have possessed child pornography between Oct. 5, 2010, and Dec. 16, 2010.

A legal source said Chairuangdej was not producing the pornography but may have downloaded it from a website onto his computer. It is unclear how police discovered the downloads.

On Facebook, a man identified as Ekkalux Chairuangdej has a short biography that says he worked as a card dealer at a Strip casino in 2008 and graduated in 1995 from Mahidol University with a degree in sports science. Mahidol University is in Thailand. The Facebook profile also says he graduated from a high school in Lampang, Thailand. The man did not immediately respond to an email sent to his Facebook account.

After Goodfellas posted a $27,000 bond for the man — $3,000 for each of nine counts — Caruso said he believes Chairuangdej fled to his native Thailand, which has an extradition treaty with the United States.

The district attorney’s spokesman, however, said his office believes Chairuangdej fled to Taiwan, which does not have a similar treaty with the United States.

Caruso said he contacted Chairuangdej’s relatives, some of whom live in Las Vegas, and they provided the address, including the apartment number, where the fugitive was believed to be staying in Thailand.

Caruso said he also met with Wolfson, who told him that Nevada law doesn’t provide for a bail bond business to pay the cost of an extradition. Even so, Caruso said, his attorney is ready to draft a court motion requesting that Goodfellas pays any extradition costs incurred.

Caruso also said he had contacted federal authorities, who told him that they would be willing to work on the extradition in Thailand so long as the Clark County district attorney signs off on it.

“The feds would then present the warrant to the State Department, which would present it to the Thai government,” Caruso said.

Afterward, Thailand officials would be responsible for arresting Chairuangdej and holding him for extradition.

Through the spokesman, Wolfson said, “We will continue to depend upon the outstanding bench warrant, which will ensure that if the defendant ever returns to the (United States), he will be immediately arrested and brought here to face the charges against him.”

County commissioners earlier this year chose Wolfson to replace District Attorney David Roger after Roger stepped down one year into his four-year elected term.

County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, one of six commissioners who voted in January to install Wolfson, said he was “disappointed” after learning about the Goodfellas offer and Wolfson’s decision.

“Child pornography isn’t like someone out there with a bunch of speeding tickets,” Sisolak said. “This is an alleged predator. I know there’s a warrant out there, but how likely is that to end up in an arrest?”

Sisolak also said that when he voted for Wolfson over other district attorney finalists, he “expected him to be aggressive on matters like this.”

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  1. I think the DA is making the right choice. The accused probably has figured out he should NOT return to this country and will not be here to commit any more crimes. Hopefully, the DA's budget would be better utilized pursuing violent offenders who are likely to commit more crimes here. And the point that Thailand is unlikely to allow extradition makes this even less likely to result in anything positive for any of us. Thai officials have also probably figured out that the suspect must be incarcerated--allow them to figure out if they will prosecute for crimes committed here or if they have enough to incarcerate already.

  2. "Caruso also said he had contacted federal authorities, who told him that they would be willing to work on the extradition in Thailand so long as the Clark County district attorney signs off on it.'

    The Goodfellas Bail Bonds owner Gino Caruso said he would paid the extradition cost.

    The DA is sending a wrong message to criminals.

  3. The DA is sending the right message to bail bondsmen. THINK before you throw money at it. Should have let the guy rot in jail waiting for trial than generating Law Enforcement work to locate and re-arrest. Let Thailand deal with their criminals and save his prison cell for another Scot Peterson.

  4. It is not the DA's position in Life to send messages to bail bondsmen. It is is position in life to follow the laws of this country.

    Since the bondsmen is willing to pay the costs this should be a no brainier.

    The DA is sending the message that you can commit crimes here and as long as you flee the country you don't have to pay for your crimes.

  5. "I think the DA is making the right choice."

    Roslenda -- I agree, and for once I have to say our current DA is making the right choice. International extradition would be far more trouble than it's worth for a foreign national who hurt no one. Considering how rabid law enforcement is on this issue, like convicting teenagers for sexting -- essentially making them their own child porn victims -- this is a no-brainer. Have a look at that @ http://reason.com/blog/2010/archives/200...

    "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others." -- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82

  6. The irony in this story is flabbergasting.

    The headline states the "bondsman" is baffled that the District Attorney is not seeking extradition in this case - giving the impression that the bondsman is baffled because of the serious nature of the charges - child pornography.

    Yet, we all know that it was through this bondsman that this alleged child predator was released onto the streets in the first place.

    So the bondsman isn't baffled because of the charges - he is baffled because he is going to lose 27,000 dollars if the DA doesn't seek to extradite.

  7. vegaslee: The bondsman is NOT willing to pay the costs of prosecution, incarceration, transportation. The bondsman is willing to contribute a small portion in an effort to recover his poor decision in providing funding to allow this low life to flee.

  8. Comment removed by moderator. Inappropriate

  9. The owner of Goodfella's Bail Bonds Eugene Caruso is under investigation by the Nevada Labor Commission, Nevada Division of Insurance, OSHA, Las Vegas City Code Enforcement, and other State and County agencies. He is just trying to make a name for himself to gain business, he is all about the money and don't give a damn about anybody else. He is a phony!