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Fugitive shipping magnate is extradited to N.O.

Michael Kunzelman, Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A Greek shipping magnate who remained a fugitive for more than a decade has been brought back to New Orleans to face charges that he and his wife diverted company money to buy luxury cars and real estate without reporting it as income to the Internal Revenue Service.

Lucas Ktistakis pleaded not guilty last Friday in the Eastern District of Louisiana to charges of conspiring to defraud the federal government and filing false income-tax returns.

A federal prosecutor said Ktistakis was arrested overseas and fought his extradition from Germany for six months before he was returned to the U.S.

A four-count indictment in January 2003 accuses Ktistakis and his wife, Kathryn, of purchasing more than $500,000 worth of cars and property in Greece with money diverted from their companies, including New Orleans-based Sunrise Shipping Agency Inc.

A federal magistrate ordered Ktistakis detained following Friday's hearing. Assistant U.S. Attorney Hayden Brockett said Ktistakis is a citizen of both Greece and the U.S.

"Therefore, we are concerned that he is a serious risk of flight," Brockett said.

Billy Gibbens, Ktistakis' attorney, said his client was indicted several years after he left the U.S.

Ktistakis and his wife were residents of Metairie, La., from 1989 through 1997 before moving to Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

The couple's indictment says they controlled an "international shipping enterprise" with companies that owned, managed and serviced cargo ships. More than $200 million in freight revenue and other funds was transferred into the bank accounts of three of those companies during the years they lived in New Orleans, according to the indictment.

The indictment lists eight transactions in which Ktistakis allegedly diverted a total of $388,000 in company funds to purchase property in Greece. His wife is accused of using around $40,000 in diverted money to buy a Mercedes Benz in 1995 and another $35,000 to buy a Volvo the following year. The couple also allegedly used nearly $60,000 to buy their daughter a Mercedes Benz.

A trial for Ktistakis is tentatively scheduled to start on Nov. 4.

The conspiracy charge in his indictment is punishable by up to five years in prison. The other three counts carry maximum sentences of three years in prison.