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By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS

Associated Press Writer
SPOKANE, Washington- With his red hair, pale skin and fake Irish accent, Frederick D. Russell was able to hide in the underground economy of Dublin, Ireland, U.S. Marshal Mike Kline said.

The power of the Internet was his undoing. Shortly after his image appeared on the Marshals Service 15 Most Wanted list, a tipster recognized Russell and contacted U.S. authorities.

That began a lengthy and secretive process that led to the fugitive's arrest by the Irish National Police on Sunday, four years to the day after he skipped bail and fled the United States while facing multiple charges of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault.

Russell, 27, who likely entered Ireland illegally after flying to England and was living under the alias David Carroll, had a girlfriend and worked for years as a security guard at "Extrovert Boutique," a lingerie store, Kline said.

Russell, who had long sported an Irish Cross tattoo on his arm and a shamrock tattoo on his back, was likely paid in cash.

"He led a somewhat normal life," Kline said. "He adopted an Irish accent."

U.S. law enforcement officers thought Russell was living in Canada. Even though they have not yet interviewed him, they now believe he flew to England immediately after fleeing the United States on Oct. 23, 2001.

Now the focus switches to when, if ever, he will be extradited to face charges.

"This can be a very long process," said Tom Hopkins of the U.S. attorney's office in Spokane.

The Marshals Service received a tip about Russell in January, shortly after he became the first accused drunken driver to make the agency's Most Wanted list.

After verifying the tip, officials in the U.S. attorney's office and Whitman County prepared an exhaustive extradition request, then waited for Irish officials to process it and for a judge there to sign an arrest warrant, Kline said.

"The last nine months have been nerve-racking," Kline said. "We knew one leak could have caused Frederick Russell to flee and disappear again."

Russell can challenge his extradition in Irish courts, is entitled to a bail hearing and has the right to appeal any decision made in Ireland, Kline said.

"We're certainly glad Mr. Russell's been captured," Whitman County Sheriff Brett Myers said. "It's been a long time."

A former Washington State University student, Russell was charged with three counts of vehicular homicide and four counts of vehicular assault in a 2001 accident that killed three people and injured four others on a two-lane highway.

Accident reports said Russell was driving a Chevrolet Blazer at about 90 mph (145 kph) and trying to pass other vehicles when he struck three cars the night of June 4, 2001. All the dead and seriously injured were returning from a movie in one car.

Russell suffered minor injuries. At a hospital after the crash, his blood-alcohol level measured .12 percent, well above the legal intoxication threshold of .08.

In October 2001, Russell's lawyer failed in a bid to quash the blood-alcohol test on grounds that it was administered by a Washington State Patrol trooper although the accident scene was just across the border into Idaho.

At that point, prosecutors contend Russell sold some baseball cards, apparently took $1,300 from his father's bank account and fled on Oct. 23, 2001, resulting in charges of bail jumping and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

He is believed to have purchased a ticket over the Internet, slipped into Canada and boarded a flight from Calgary, Alberta, to London's Gatwick airport, Kline said

Russell's father, Gregory Russell, a former prosecutor, paid his son's $5,000 bail but has denied knowing he planned to flee. He did not return a telephone message Monday.

Shortly after the young man jumped bail, his father and several newspapers received a letter signed by Frederick Russell. It read in part:

"I left because I had no choice. Since the first day after the tragic accident, horrible things have been printed about me. Now people are so enraged that they would rather see me dead than receive a fair trial. I maintain my innocence. But my life has been repeatedly threatened, so I cannot stay."

Last January, the Marshals Service placed Russell on its Most Wanted list because of "the horrific nature of this car crash" and the fact Russell had fled. He was described as "armed and dangerous."

Hank Clements, whose 22-year-old son, Brandon, was killed in the accident, said he hoped Russell would stand trial in the United States.

"I'll be there every day," the father said. "I want to sit in that courtroom and just stare at him."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
 
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