A former Winnipegger who avoided a jail sentence in Canada by fleeing to the United States is in legal trouble again.
Thirty-two years ago, Robert Fotti hit and killed a man and his son as they were riding a motorcycle in Winnipeg. Fotti was convicted of dangerous driving and sentenced to nine months in jail but he fled to the U.S. and never served any prison time.
In 1990, the CBC I-Team tracked him down. Fotti had changed his name to Robert Fox and was living in Jacksonville, Texas, where he had become the leader of a prison ministry called the House of Israel.
The I-Team reporters asked Fox if he was actually Fotti, and why he ran from his conviction. He tried to cover the television camera and said he had to consult his lawyer.
Fotti had never faced extradition for his conviction because it was not on the list of offences that comprised a treaty between the United States and Canada. A Canada-wide warrant for his arrest remains active.
He is now set to appear in court in Texas in June to deal with drug charges.
Jacksonville police raided the House of Israel complex last year and twice took Fotti into custody. He was released on $90,000 U.S. worth of combined bonds.
Police initially arrested him on May 28, 2008, for possession of dangerous drugs and controlled substances. More than 10,000 illegal pills — from antibiotics to pain killers — were recovered from inside the complex.
Officers returned to the complex two weeks later and arrested Fotti for allegedly practicing law without a licence. Paperwork recovered from the building during the first raid indicated he had been giving legal advice to incarcerated people or their family members, and accepting money in return, police said.
During the raids, police also recovered information they said linked the group to terrorist organizations. There were fliers proclaiming the Oklahoma City bombers as patriots, along with other radical propaganda.
"They appear to be clowns with their beliefs and this and that, but you'd better take 'em seriously," Reese Daniel, chief of police in Jacksonville, told CBC News.