Racketeer fails to surrender, loses mansion

November 05, 1990|By Kelly Gilbert | Kelly Gilbert,Evening Sun Staff

Federal prosecutor Gary P. Jordan reacted to the news with a terse order: "Party! Saturday night, 7 o'clock. Be there!"

Then he laughed, as the idea of enjoying a drink in the Jacuzzi at a Long Island estate drifted through his mind.

Officially, Jordan now is the proud owner of a $1.2 million colonial mansion in the exclusive community of St. James, N.Y. The pTC square-foot home has a hot tub, a swimming pool and a man-made lake.

But there's a rub: Jordan is merely the government's agent for the home. He can't actually live in the place. Or party there, either.

The mansion was forfeited last week by Raju V. Vegesna, an Indian immigrant, who failed to appear to begin serving a two-year prison term for racketeering tied to his buying of favors from U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials.

Vegesna, the founder and former president and chief executive of American Therapeutics Inc., was sentenced to prison, 1,200 hours of community service and a $10,000 fine in the FDA case in July.

Vegesna posted his luxury home and his wife's stock interest in ATI -- an estimated 10 percent of the company -- as a bond pending surrender to federal prison officials in late September.

In August, Vegesna obtained court permission to travel to his native India to see his ailing father. He never returned to the United States.

In September, Vegesna sent word to the court that he had fallen ill in India with infectious hepatitis and could not travel. So, Judge John R. Hargrove, in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, extended the defendant's prison reporting date to Oct. 26.

Again, Vegesna failed to appear. And, he failed to provide documentation of his illness.

Last week, Hargrove signed a bench warrant for Vegesna's arrest and ordered the forfeiture of Vegesna's bond property.

Jordan said Friday that the Justice Department's Office of International Affairs has approved an extradition request that is to be sent to the Indian government.

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