Federal prosecutors drop charges against defendants who disappeared

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Federal prosecutors want to toss out felony theft charges against a former Georgetown University official accused of stealing $300,000 after entering the country illegally — but not because of lingering doubts about his guilt.

Instead, officials acknowledged in a court filing that they can’t find Pedro dos Santos. And so much time has slipped away since he disappeared in 2007 that prosecutors now have moved to throw out the case against him.

“The defendant was not apprehended and efforts to locate him have failed,” prosecutors wrote in a memo Friday. “After reviewing this matter, the government has concluded that, because of the passage of time, it could not successfully prosecute this matter at this time. Accordingly, we are requesting that the case be dismissed.”

The request, which came on the day after Thanksgiving when little else was going on in the judiciary, was just one of four such requests in unrelated white-collar cases filed on the same day.

Prosecutors also sought to toss charges against:

Jose Sampedro, a fugitive for more than a decade after he was accused of bribery in a massive D.C. government contract scam

Chris Asher, who was accused of mail fraud and pretending to be another lawyer when he was disbarred, then forging client signatures on checks

Aissatou Koundoul, who was indicted in 2006 on conspiracy charges tied to a fraud scheme at the World Bank.

The U.S. attorney’s office could not be reached for comment Friday concerning the timing of the motions to dismiss, which still must be approved by a judge.

While the charges and purported schemes vary, the motions to throw out the charges are nearly identical. In each case, prosecutors said the defendants couldn’t be found and that the cases couldn’t be successfully prosecuted because of “the passage of time.”

The Washington Times previously reported on Mr. dos Santos‘ case in 2007.

According to an FBI affidavit, he was working as associate director of Georgetown’s Brazilian studies program when an internal audit in 2005 tied him to the theft of more than $300,000.

Court records at the time showed he called a co-worker in March 2005 after he was confronted about the missing money.

“I will be in Brazil by the time you get this message,” the caller said.

Investigators also found that Mr. dos Santos was convicted in 1999 on a federal charge of unlawful re-entry after deportation.

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