Latest from The Spokesman-Review
It took more than 10 years for a Spokane lawyer to face charges that he stole from a client to fund a failed resort development on Lake Coeur d’Alene.
Under a sentence imposed today, it will take him just as long to repay even a fraction of what he owes his victims.
Claude K. Irwin Jr., the fugitive arrested in an international ruse arranged by federal agents in January, left the Spokane County Jail Tuesday night after pleading guilty to first-degree theft that afternoon in Spokane County Superior Court.
He was credited for about five months already served in jail – about two weeks of which was spent in Los Angeles County after his arrest in Mexico.
A disbarred Spokane lawyer on the run for more than a decade pleaded not guilty Wednesday to an accusation that he stole money from a dead client’s estate.
Claude K. Irwin, Jr. appeared in Spokane County Superior Court on Wednesday through a video feed from the jail, where he’s been since returning to Spokane from Los Angeles two weeks ago.
Irwin disappeared in 1997 and resurfaced in Mexico, where authorities believe he lived under a false name and operated a tour business. Tips led U.S. Marshals to contact him through that business last month, leading to his capture on Jan. 27.
Irwin, 62, owes millions in claims to creditors and investors for a failed development on Lake Coeur d’Alene, Powderhorn Ridge Ranch.
He’s charged with first-degree theft for allegedly taking money from a dead client’s estate and investigating it in the development instead of giving it to her beneficiaries. Irwin’s bond is set at $750,000.
He’s represented by Aaron Lowe, a private defense lawyer.
A disbarred lawyer on the run for more than a decade returned to Spokane this week to face an accusation that he stole money from a dead client’s estate.
Claude K. Irwin, Jr., appeared in Superior Court on Wednesday through a video feed from the jail, where he was booked just after 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Irwin’s bond was set at $750,000 for a first-degree theft charge. If convicted, Irwin’s lack of a criminal record means he would face about 90 days in jail. But he owes millions in claims to creditors and investors for a failed development on Lake Coeur d’Alene, Powderhorn Ridge Ranch.
His 12 years on the run show he’s a flight risk who needed a huge bond, Deputy Prosecutor Shane Smith said.
Smith said he’s reviewing the accusations against Irwin to see if they warrant additional charges.
Irwin’s current charge could carry a stiffer penalty “based on the sheer amount of money that was involved and the fact that he was in a position of trust,” Smith said.
Irwin, 62, declined to be interviewed for this story. He was represented by a public defender Wednesday, who said Irwin plans to hire private counsel.
Irwin had been in jail in Los Angeles since Jan. 27, after he stepped off a plane from Mexico and was arrested.
Read the rest of my story here.
Past coverage: Fugitive developer captured in international ruse
Claude K. Irwin, Jr., the fugitive disbarred Spokane lawyer captured in Mexico after more than a decade, is back in Spokane.
Irwin, 62, is due in Spokane County Superior Court this afternoon via video feed from the jail, where he has been in custody without bail since about 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Irwin had been in jail in Los Angeles since Jan. 27, after he stepped off a plane from Mexico.
He was detained in Mexico City and thought he was just being deported when he arrived in Los Angeles, authorities said, but he was arrested on a felony warrant for first-degree theft out of Spokane County Superior Court when he arrived on U.S. soil.
The charge contends Irwin took at least $230,000 from a dead woman’s estate that was meant for her beneficiaries, including two colleges and a minister.
He also faces hefty claims from creditors and investors he’s accused of duping in a failed multimillion-dollar, 390-acre real estate development near Harrison, Idaho, Powderhorn Ridge Ranch.
Irwin, who declined in a jailhouse interview, disappeared in 1997 but resurfaced on a Web site in 2000 under the name “Koyote Karlos.” He apparently had been stationed in southern Mexico all these years, operating a tour business that U.S Marshals used to capture him.
Federal agent Robert Doty used a false name to contact Irwin, who was living under the name Miles Becker, through a Web site promoting the tour business.
He lived the high-life he’d become accustomed to in Spokane, escaping to southern Mexico and bragging about his exploits on a Web site that nearly led to his capture.
But after evading authorities for more than a decade, disbarred Spokane lawyer and developer Claude Irwin, Jr, is set to return to Spokane County to face the creditors and investors he’s accused of duping out of millions of dollars in a failed lakeside development in North Idaho.
Federal agents arrested Irwin, 62, Wednesday night as he stepped off a plane in Los Angeles, part of an international ruse arranged by the U.S. Marshals Office.
He’s awaiting extradition to Spokane County on a felony theft warrant filed in 1998, a year after he vanished and left his multimillion-dollar, 390-acre real estate development near Harrison, Idaho, Powderhorn Ridge Ranch, facing at least $3 million in unpaid judgments and claims.
“He needed to come home,” said Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Eric Marks in Spokane.
Once in Spokane, Irwin be held without bail.
Irwin’s arrest came after a tipster contacted a Spokesman-Review reporter in August with questions about the case and information about Irwin’s possible location and new identity in Mexico.
The newspaper, as is customary, urged the tipster to alert law enforcement to any information regarding potential criminal matters, and – with the tipster’s permission – helped arrange for the tipster and federal marshals to contact each other.
Irwin was nearly caught in 2000 after a reporter found a web site he’d created.
The pictures above were taken from that site. Irwin labeled the top photo “Ayatolla.”
Read the rest of my story: Fugitive developer captured in international ruse
Past coverage: To catch Koyote Karlos, you’ll have to move fast