Fraudster, who fled to Canada, jailed for 17.5 years

U.S. man, convicted of fraud back in 2008, is finally sentenced by a New York judge after being extradited two years ago.

A U.S. man, who fled to Canada in 2008 after being convicted of bilking investors out of about $1 million, has been sentenced to 17.5 years in jail.

Thomas Qualls, 45, former president of International Foreign Currency, Inc., was convicted in 2008, after failing to appear in court the day closing arguments were set to begin during his four-week trial. The jury found him guilty on all charges including mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice.

Under the guise of his firm, Qualls promised investors hefty returns on foreign currencies. Meanwhile, he was using their funds on business and personal expenses including a Caribbean cruise and Jaguar.

The accused was tracked down by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in Montreal in 2009 and imprisoned on a fugitive warrant. After a lengthy court battle - during which Qualls challenged extradition and unsuccessfully filed for refugee status - he was finally returned to the U.S. in 2012.

Qualls was ordered by a U.S. district judge on Friday to serve 210 months in prison. He must also pay a restitution fine of about $817,000.

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