SeaTac Police arrest federal fugitive Edward Porta at local hotel Wednesday

Edward_Porta_mug_shotSeaTac Police officers arrested ‘most wanted’ federal fugitive Edward Porta (mugshot pictured, left) at a local hotel on Wednesday, May 25.

Police say that over the past week, information about Porta was circulated by a TV program (“Washington’s Most Wanted”) after it was reported by Federal Marshals that he may be in the area. Shortly after the information was out to the public, tips came into the show as well as Crime Stoppers.

One of those tips led SeaTac Deputies to a hotel near the airport. Once there, Deputies were able to confirm with the front desk that a man, later identified as Porta, was indeed renting a room, but under a false name. Deputies, acting as the hotel front desk, then called Porta and asked him to come down and speak with them about a problem with the room he was in. When Porta came out of his room, he was arrested without incident.

Porta was apparently so wanted that he has his own Wikipedia page; here’s an excerpt:

Edward Porta (born November 13, 1954) was an Argentinian textile trader based in the area of Spartanburg, South Carolina. He pleaded guilty to a federal charge of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Department of Agriculture of more than $400,000. In February 2008, Porta escaped from the minimum security camp at the U.S. Penitentiary in Lee County, Virginia and was profiled on America’s Most Wanted.

Porta began his career working for his father’s textile business. Police stated that he plotted to take advantage of federal programs such as the Export Credit Guarantee Program, intended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to assist small U.S. and foreign exporters of cotton to compete against large corporations. As president of Porta Textiles and Porta Technologies, he acted as both the importer and the exporter, according to the police. Along with money he defrauded from the government, police said that Porta also swindled banks and other businesses of over $2 million. After his arrest, Porta said that he moved around various parts of the United States and Latin America during his life.

Porta pleaded guilty on December 20, 2005 to the charge of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. On May 2, 2007, the court in Asheville, North Carolina sentenced Porta to 38 months at the U.S. Penitentiary in Lee County, Virginia. He was ordered to pay $2.9 million restitution.

Porta was booked into the King County Jail late in the day Wednesday, and it is expected that Federal Marshals will take custody of him today – Thursday, May 26.

Police add that there is no indication why Porta was in the SeaTac area or how long he had been here. At the time of his escape in 2008, Porta had been serving a 38-month Prison sentence for fraud related charges. It is unknown what or if any additional charges he will now face.

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