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August 2, 2015

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Law Enforcement:

DA’s decision not to extradite bail-jumper in child porn case mystifies bondsman

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Joe Schoenmann

Police mugshots of Ekkalux Chairuangdej, accused of nine counts of possessing child pornography in Clark County and thought to be on the run in Thailand.

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Steve Wolfson

Sun coverage

The district attorney’s decision not to seek extradition of a man alleged to have possessed child pornography is puzzling a bail bondsman and a Clark County commissioner, especially since the bondsman wants to pay all extradition-related expenses.

“Spending a few thousand dollars is a lot better than losing all $27,000,” said Gino Caruso, owner of Goodfellas Bail Bonds, 513 S. Main St.

Through a spokesman, District Attorney Steve Wolfson said the Justice Department advised his office that in this case, involving Ekkalux Chairuangdej, “the country we would be seeking to extradite the defendant from would be reluctant to turn over one of their citizens to face these charges.”

“Extradition requests take a lot of time and effort and often significant cost,” the spokesman said via email. “Each possible extradition case is carefully considered and decisions are based on a variety of factors.”

Chairuangdej was charged in late June 2011 with nine felony counts of possession of child pornography. According to a criminal complaint filed in Las Vegas Township Justice Court, Chairuangdej is alleged to have possessed child pornography between Oct. 5, 2010, and Dec. 16, 2010.

A legal source said Chairuangdej was not producing the pornography but may have downloaded it from a website onto his computer. It is unclear how police discovered the downloads.

On Facebook, a man identified as Ekkalux Chairuangdej has a short biography that says he worked as a card dealer at a Strip casino in 2008 and graduated in 1995 from Mahidol University with a degree in sports science. Mahidol University is in Thailand. The Facebook profile also says he graduated from a high school in Lampang, Thailand. The man did not immediately respond to an email sent to his Facebook account.

After Goodfellas posted a $27,000 bond for the man — $3,000 for each of nine counts — Caruso said he believes Chairuangdej fled to his native Thailand, which has an extradition treaty with the United States.

The district attorney’s spokesman, however, said his office believes Chairuangdej fled to Taiwan, which does not have a similar treaty with the United States.

Caruso said he contacted Chairuangdej’s relatives, some of whom live in Las Vegas, and they provided the address, including the apartment number, where the fugitive was believed to be staying in Thailand.

Caruso said he also met with Wolfson, who told him that Nevada law doesn’t provide for a bail bond business to pay the cost of an extradition. Even so, Caruso said, his attorney is ready to draft a court motion requesting that Goodfellas pays any extradition costs incurred.

Caruso also said he had contacted federal authorities, who told him that they would be willing to work on the extradition in Thailand so long as the Clark County district attorney signs off on it.

“The feds would then present the warrant to the State Department, which would present it to the Thai government,” Caruso said.

Afterward, Thailand officials would be responsible for arresting Chairuangdej and holding him for extradition.

Through the spokesman, Wolfson said, “We will continue to depend upon the outstanding bench warrant, which will ensure that if the defendant ever returns to the (United States), he will be immediately arrested and brought here to face the charges against him.”

County commissioners earlier this year chose Wolfson to replace District Attorney David Roger after Roger stepped down one year into his four-year elected term.

County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, one of six commissioners who voted in January to install Wolfson, said he was “disappointed” after learning about the Goodfellas offer and Wolfson’s decision.

“Child pornography isn’t like someone out there with a bunch of speeding tickets,” Sisolak said. “This is an alleged predator. I know there’s a warrant out there, but how likely is that to end up in an arrest?”

Sisolak also said that when he voted for Wolfson over other district attorney finalists, he “expected him to be aggressive on matters like this.”

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