Immigration Lawyer Meyerovich comments on Extradition between Mexico-US
Killer's Extradition May Take Time
U.S. Must Deal With Mexican Authorities In Order To Get Zachs Back To Connecticut
February 20, 2011|By AMANDA FALCONE, The Hartford Courant
After more than 20 years on the run, convicted murderer Adam M. Zachs was captured in Mexico on Feb. 1. But when — or whether — he'll return to the U.S. to start serving his 60-year sentence is anyone's guess.
Officials say the extradition process isn't easy.
"It's a lengthy process," said John Fahey, a senior assistant state's attorney, who is handling the international extradition process for Zachs.
Zachs, 47, was arrested in Leon, Mexico, a city of about 1.1 million people in the state of Guanajuato.
Zachs disappeared in 1989 while appealing his prison sentence for fatally shooting Peter Carone at Prospect Café in West Hartford in 1987. Police said the two men had been watching an NCAA basketball tournament game. A minor argument started, and the two went outside and scuffled, according to testimony at Zachs' trial.
Police say they were led to Zachs through his connections in the U.S. They say Zachs, who went by the name Ruben Fridman, had a wife and children in Mexico. He was arrested on a provisional arrest warrant just outside a computer repair business police say he operated in Leon and is being held in Mexico City.
Little else is being said about Zachs' life over the past two decades because officials are still investigating, they say.
U.S. officials have 60 days, or until March 31, to prepare, translate and give to authorities in Mexico the paperwork for Zachs' extradition, Fahey said. The U.S. must prove its case for extradition on paper, he said.
Fahey said the schedule for the rest of the process is up to Mexico. At this time, Zachs has not waived extradition, meaning that he has not agreed to come back to the U.S. on his own, Fahey said. Zachs has an attorney who will represent him in a Mexican court, said Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Andrew Tingley. Zachs will not appear in court himself, Tingley said.
It is unknown whether any court dates relating to Zachs' extradition case have been scheduled. The attorney general's office in Mexico, which handles such cases, confirmed that Zachs had been arrested, but would not provide additional information. The extradition process can take months, or sometimes even longer, the office said.
Fahey said Zachs' case is uncommon because most people flee before they are tried or convicted, not after they are sentenced.
If extradited, Fahey said, Zachs would likely go straight to prison in Connecticut. Too much time has passed since Zachs' attempt to appeal his conviction, Fahey said, and Zachs has now lost the right to appeal.
The extradition process between the U.S. and Mexico is complicated, and the extradition treaty between the two countries is not always enforced, said Alex Meyerovich, an attorney for M.C. Law Group LLP in Bridgeport.
"In reality, it comes down to politics," he said, explaining that all the parties involved follow the law, but with their own agendas. "It's a game for grownups."
Meyerovich said extradition is decided case by case. Mexico could choose to deal with Zachs itself and impose its own punishment on the U.S. charges, he said. Doing so might prevent the U.S. from also punishing Zachs if he were to go back home because it could be considered double jeopardy, he added.