Thai authorities announced that a former fugitive wanted on criminal stock manipulation charges relating to a money-losing New Jersey deli once valued at $100 million has agreed to be extradited to the United States.
Peter Coker Jr., 54, was arrested by Thai police in the resort area of Phuket last Thursday, more than three months after he, his father, Peter Coker Sr., and an acquaintance, James Patten, were charged by a federal court in New Jersey.
The 12-count complaint charges financial crimes involving two publicly traded companies: Hometown International, which possessed just a small, now-closed deli in Paulsboro, New Jersey, and E-Waste, which had no assets.
Friday, the Associated Press reported that Coker Jr., an American who had been living and working as a businessman in Hong Kong, is being kept in a Bangkok jail for the next several weeks prior to his expected extradition.
Coker Jr. entered Thailand on a passport issued by the Caribbean island of St. Kitts and Nevis, according to a police statement. The AP reported that this nation offers citizenship in exchange for investments.
“Mr. Coker Jr. freely consented to be extradited to the United States, which streamlined the court’s legal process,” a prosecutor at Thailand’s Attorney General’s office told the Associated Press.
“According to Thai law, we must wait thirty days before sending him back,” Teerat explained.
The prosecutor told the AP that Coker Jr. “was visibly emaciated when he was taken into custody, and he informed us that he requires medical treatment for his liver illness.”
Teerat stated, “We suspect he entered Thailand with the intention of settling here.”
U.S. authorities accuse the Cokers and Patten of engaging in a plan to buy up the share prices of Hometown International and E-Waste, both of which had high market capitalizations while having little or no valuable assets, to make them more attractive to private corporations as merger targets. Both businesses eventually found merger partners.
Coker Jr. served as the former chairman of Hometown International.
Pattan and Coker Sr. have been in court since their arrests, however Coker Jr. was thought to be at large until his arrest last week.
A representative of the U.S. The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, which is pursuing the case, confirmed Coker Jr.’s arrest in Thailand, but declined additional comment.