Chris Edwards

On the left is former Napa City Council candidate Chris Edwards. Register file photo

Lindsay Miller/Register

The former Napa wine executive accused of stealing $900,000 from an online wine fulfillment company has been apprehended in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where he allegedly fled after his indictment in May for fraud and money laundering, federal officials said Friday.

Martin “Chris” Edwards, a former Napa mayoral candidate and longtime community activist, was arrested Wednesday in Mexico and deported to the United States to face federal charges, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag and other officials announced Friday.

FBI agents in the United States and Guadalajara, Mexico, coordinated their efforts with Mexican immigration officials to locate Edwards, Haag said.

They found him near the Hacienda Escondida Private Villas, Haag said in the statement.

He is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Court Judge William H. Alsup in San Francisco on Wednesday.

A federal grand jury on May 30 indicted Edwards, 48, the former general manager of The Wine Tasting Network, on 23 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.

Edwards did not make his initial appearance in federal court on June 17 and instead fled to Mexico, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Federal officials allege Edwards wrote fraudulent invoices to a fictitious entity, Dufrane Compliance Trust, to siphon about $900,000 between May 2010 and October 2012, according to court records.

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Edwards allegedly deposited the money into an account he controlled, federal officials said. He allegedly withdrew money for his own use, including the purchase of a 2008 BMW which has now been seized.

Edwards faces decades in prison, fines and restitution orders, according to federal officials.

According to news reports, The Wine Tasting Network, was sold in December to TSG, LLC, a St. Louis-based investment group.


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