PETER Joseph Leus, a 45-year-old American fugitive wanted since 2005 in the state of New Jersey in the United States (US) for first-degree money laundering and second-degree theft by deception, was arrested by Cavite police at his grandmother’s house Saturday night in Paco, Manila. He is one of 12 most wanted fugitives in New Jersey.
Police Ch. Insp. Bernouli Abalos told The Manila Times that Leus had a pending warrant of arrest from New Jersey issued on Sept. 6, 2005 by Superior Court Mercer Country Judget Linda Feinberg for money laundering and theft by deception.
The suspect was listed at Office Attorney General Division of Criminal Justice and place as one in 12 most wanted fugitive in New Jersey in the US.
In 1999 to March 2005, he worked as comptroller of New Vista Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Newark, New Jersey, where he had complete control and access of New Vista’s bank account between January 1,2003 and March 7, 2005.
In New Jersey, Leus was meted up to 30 years in state prison, a fine of up to $650,000 and restitution to the nursing home if convicted on both counts of the criminal indictment.
Criminal Justice Director McKoy noted that Leus is a fugitive from justice and has been placed on the Division of Criminal Justice “12 Most Wanted Fugitive List.” Leus, a/k/a Joseph Q. Leus and/or Joseph Leus, is a Filipino male 5′ 8″ tall and weighing approximately 200 pounds. Leus has medium shade complexion, short-cropped straight black hair, and brown eyes.
Leus stole from the nursing home patient needs and payroll to support his gambling habit and to pay for personal expenses. “As a result, the financial health of the nursing home and its patients is in shambles,” said McKoy.
The State Grand Jury indictment alleges that from January 2003 through February 2005, Leus, the comptroller of the New Vista Nursing and Rehabilitation Center located in Newark, Essex County for more than 17 years, embezzled approximately $1.7 million from his employer and the patients at the nursing and rehabilitation center.
The indictment charges that a portion of the alleged fraud resulted from Leus writing extra payroll checks to New Vista employees—payroll checks that the employees were unaware of and did not receive.
The investigation uncovered 924 payroll checks totaling $1,103,544 in the names of 175 different employees. It is charged that the checks were deposited into a defunct business bank account maintained by Leus. Additionally, during the same time period, it is charged that Leus wrote 185 unauthorized checks totaling $594,377 payable to himself from the New Vista payroll account.
Police said Leus hid in the Philippines since 2005 until Saturday night when he was arrested by CIDT through a tipster.
Leus was brought to CIDT office for proper disposition and documentation prior to his turnover to proper authorities for deportation to his country.
The CIDT-Cavite Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit is coordinating with the US embassy for his extradition.