Fugitive agrees to detention here Charged with issuing bad checks in state.

September 20, 1991|By Kelly Gilbert | Kelly Gilbert,Evening Sun Staff

A federal fugitive, arrested by the FBI in Dallas last month after he was featured on a national television show, has consented to detention on bank-fraud charges in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

John J. Irwin, 39, who authorities said has lived in at least seven states using a variety of aliases since he fled from Maryland in 1986, agreed to the detention pending trial in a brief hearing yesterday before a federal magistrate.

Irwin is charged in a 1986 federal indictment in Baltimore with defrauding two Hagerstown banks and a bank in Deale out of more than $32,000 in a series of bad-check schemes.

The defendant was arrested Aug. 28 in Dallas after the FBI received a tip that he was living in a motel there. He had been featured on the NBC television series "Unsolved Mysteries" on July 3.

When Irwin was arrested, he was accompanied by a 17-year-old Cherokee Indian woman and a 3-year-old child. They were taken into protective custody and returned to their family in North Carolina, the FBI said.

The defendant, who was first arrested for writing bad checks when he was 16 years old, also is wanted on criminal charges in South Carolina and Florida, and is the suspect in a theft investigation in Owingsboro, Ky., authorities said.

According to the indictment and related information from the FBI, Irwin used personal checks to open checking and savings accounts at First National Bank in Deale in 1985, and at Home Federal Savings Bank and First Federal Savings and Loan in Hagerstown in 1986.

After opening the accounts, he quickly withdrew thousands of dollars from them before bank officials discovered that the personal checks were drawn on closed accounts, the indictment said.

Irwin allegedly repeated the same scam at a savings and loan in North Charleston, S.C., within two weeks after he left Maryland in 1986, and bilked the S&L out of $8,000.

The FBI said Irwin's criminal record includes two escapes from institutions in Ohio, where he served time for embezzlement in the late 1970s, and an arrest in Tijuana, Mexico, in 1980 for the theft of a $95,000 motor home he allegedly purchased with a worthless check.

After his escapes in Ohio, Irwin traveled through the Southwestern United States, Central and South America, North Africa and Europe.

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