Man who fled U.S. back in state

Friday, November 3, 2006

A Putnam County man who investigators say fled to South America last year to avoid child molestation charges appeared handcuffed and in police custody Thursday evening.

Former Greencastle resident Thomas Jerry Hudson, 74, was shown on Indianapolis TV stations as he walked into a federal courtroom Thursday morning to face charges of passport fraud.

Authorities say Hudson illegally obtained a passport in July 2005 and fled the United States to avoid trial for the alleged molestation of a 10-year-old relative believed to have occurred between July and August 2003.

Hudson made local and state headlines in early October when he was arrested near the Venezuelan town of Merida following a joint investigation by the Diplomatic Security Service, International Crime Police Organization, U.S. Marshalls Service and Putnam County Prosecu-tor's Office.

After waiting in Miami, Fla., for extradition to Indiana, Hudson was brought to Indianapolis this week and is now being held at the Marion County Jail without bond.

Prosecutor Tim Book-walter told the Banner Graphic Friday that he hopes to persuade federal court officials to allow Hudson to be brought back to Putnam County as soon as possible to face his original, felony molestation charge.

Bookwalter said he intends to meet with federal attorneys in the case by early next week and discuss how to proceed. He said he hopes the judge will agree with him that the molestation charge against Hudson should take precedence over the passport fraud case.

"My argument will be that we want to bring him out here to face the more serious charge first," Bookwalter said.

Once the order is given, local law enforcement will likely be asked to go to Indianapolis and bring Hudson back to Putnam County, Bookwalter said.

"We're going to ask that he be held without bond given his history," Bookwalter said.

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