Following a hearing last week on the byzantine strictures of extradition law, Northern District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker today ordered Wathne out of the United States, effective June 26. And the judge refused to toss a money laundering indictment against the Icelandic citizen, meaning he can either spend the foreseeable future avoiding countries with strong extradition treaties with the United States — or stay and fight the charges against him.
The feds charged Wathne in 2005 in connection with an LSD factory one of his friends constructed in an old missile silo (okay, perhaps Wathne wouldn’t be lying about the mystery part, either). He lived in Russia at the time of the indictment, which was kept under seal, but when he travelled to New Delhi for a family trip in 2007 the cops nabbed him in the airport. His attorney Cristina Arguedas then negotiated a deal, whereby Wathne could litigate extradition in San Francisco instead of India.
Last fall Walker ruled that Wathne wouldn’t have been able to have been extradited from India. But his lawyer, San Francisco solo Karen Snell, wanted Walker to toss the case entirely, a move the government opposed. And today Walker sided with prosecutors.
“Defendant’s contention that the availability of the remedy of dismissal must have been part of the bargain struck between defendant and the United States or else defendant would have received ‘no benefit at all’ is meritless,” Walker wrote, adding that the deal allowed Wathne a pass to the United States from India, where he had no personal ties.
Should Wathne decide to leave the country, the $5 million bail posted by his mother and two aunts (known as the “triplets” for their tendency to dress identically both at fashion shows, and at court hearings in the Tenderloin) would be returned. Or, maybe Arguedas, Snell and assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Beausey will come up with a deal before the end of June.
— Dan Levine