Putnam County man arrested in South American country

Friday, October 6, 2006

Police in the South American country of Venezuela arrested an accused child molester from Putnam County this week after local officials said he fled the United States to avoid prosecution.

Thomas Jerry Hudson, 74, Greencastle, was originally arrested and charged with molesting a child in 2004 and was scheduled to stand trial, however, officials believe he managed to flee the country in July of 2005.

On Thursday, Hudson arrived at the Miami International Airport under the guard of agents with the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) and International Crime Police Organization (Interpol).

In addition to molestation charges, he now faces a federal charge of Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution (UFAP).

The DSS, in a press release issued Thursday, said they believe Hudson fraudulently obtained a second passport in order to leave the country after surrendering his original travel documents to the Putnam County courts as a condition of his incarceration.

U.S. marshals contacted the U.S. Department of Diplomatic Security Service in Chicago and in August of this year, Hudson was indicted in U.S. District Court for passport fraud.

Extensive coordination between the DSS regional security officer at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela, and his local police counterparts led to Hudson's capture earlier this week in the town of Merida, according to the press release.

Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter praised federal officials for their efforts in apprehending Hudson.

"My office has doggedly pursued Mr. Hudson over the last year," Bookwalter said. "I want to profoundly thank the DSS and Interpol for finding Mr. Hudson in Venezuela and convincing Venezuelan authorities to deport him, and the U.S. Marshals for arresting him in Miami."

Bookwalter said he was told by federal officials that Hudson would be returned to Putnam County in a couple of weeks.

"I hope the lesson from this for defenders who flee is that you can run but you can't hide," Boowalter said.

"Many times we here how dysfunctional our government is, but this is an example of how well government can work together."

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