PHUKET – American National Shawn Abraham Shaw, 43, accused of kidnapping American Antonio Accornero in Phuket in 2013 is in police custody on the resort island of Phuket after being extradited from the US to Thailand on Friday.
Shaw is accused of a series of crimes against Antonio Accornero, a millionaire who splits his time between Las Vegas and Phuket and is said to be well connected with senior Thai officials.
Mr Shaw has denied the charges. At his extradition hearing in Florida, he maintained that Mr Accornero made a complaint to Thai authorities after a business deal between the two went sour.
The complaint was not made until 40 days after the alleged crime, Mr Shaw’s lawyers have said.
Mr Shaw arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok on Saturday morning and was escorted to the Kamala district police station in Phuket.
He is being held on the basis of an arrest warrant issued on Feb 13, 2014 in connection with the alleged kidnapping for ransom of Mr Accornero two months earlier.
Mr Accornero also has accused Mr Shaw of taking cash and assets worth as much as US$2 million from him. If convicted of the most serious kidnapping charge, Mr Shaw could face life in prison in Thailand.
Andrew Feldman, Mr Shaw’s lawyer, told the Palm Beach Sun-Sentinel newspaper earlier that he was very worried his client would not receive fair treatment from the Thai justice system and would be detained in “horrific” jails.
Mr Shaw spent two years in custody in Florida while he fought extradition. Last month he was moved to a federal detention centre in Los Angeles in preparation for his extradition.
Mr Shaw was arrested on Nov 26, 2014, at the condominium in Palm Beach where he was living with his fiancee, Dawn Pasqualucci.
Investigators say that on Dec 14, 2013, he drugged Mr Accornero at a Phuket bar, put him in a car, used plastic ties to bind his neck to the headrest and tied up his wrists and ankles.
In a sworn statement to Thai police, Mr Accornero said Mr Shaw held him captive overnight in a house and they negotiated a $3-million ransom. He said he talked his captor down to $2 million and that the money was to be paid when Mr Shaw returned to the US, according to court records. No money changed hands, officials said.
The defence maintained that Mr Shaw was set up by Mr Accornero, who they say wanted him jailed as revenge for a failed business deal.
Ms Pasqualucci testified that Mr Shaw told her that both of their lives had been threatened after he found something incriminating on Mr Accornero’s computer.
She also testified that she and Mr Shaw were followed and intimidated by private investigators, who they thought were hired by the alleged victim, when they lived in New York earlier.
Court records show Ms Pasqualucci went to the FBI in Newark, New Jersey in January 2014, a month after the ransom was reportedly negotiated, and told agents that she suspected Mr Accornero was involved in human trafficking. The FBI did not appear to have started any investigation. The couple moved to Palm Beach a few months later.
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