U.S. expat finally extradited after a lengthy battle to stay in Costa Rica

A U.S. citizen charged in connection with the operation of a series of fraudulent business opportunities has been extradited from Costa Rica to the United States, the Justice Department announced.

The man is Gregory Scott Garrett, also known locally as John White. He was charged in a Nov. 29, 2011, indictment in the Southern District of Florida with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, five counts of mail fraud and 13 counts of wire fraud.

He was arrested on Feb. 9, 2012, in Costa Rica.

He and his lawyer then launched a lengthy effort to avoid extradition. At one point, the man sought refugee status.

Garrett worked with USA Beverages Inc., Twin Peaks Gourmet Coffee, Inc., and a string of other companies that took money from U.S. citizens with the promise that they would be able to start a vending business. The scams were run out of Escazú, Santa Ana and also in offices in the Sabana Office Center, although the scammers gave would-be customers the impression that the businesses were located in the United States, the U.S. Justice Department has said.

The unsuccessful appeal for refugee status said that Garrett would be subject to life imprisonment because of the penalties for the multiple charges he faces.

Such a penalty is forbidden under Costa Rican law.

He lived in San Antonio de Escazú and has had two children by a Costa Rican woman.

In addition to Garrett, 11 other defendants have been charged in connection with related business opportunity fraud ventures that operated in Costa Rica, said the Justice Department.  Nine of those other defendants have been convicted in the United States with sentences ranging from three to 16 years in prison.  Two remaining defendants have yet to be received into the custody, the agency said.

If convicted, Garrett faces a statutory maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, a possible fine and mandatory restitution on the conspiracy count, said the Justice Department.  He also faces a statutory maximum sentence of 25 years in prison on each of the mail and wire fraud counts, possible fines and mandatory restitution, the agency added.

Garrett has argued informally that he played a small role in the businesses, which began in 2005.

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