Your Hometown Deli in Paulsboro, N.J.
A former fugitive wanted on criminal stock manipulation charges related to a money-losing New Jersey deli once valued at $100 million has agreed to be extradited from Thailand to the United States, Thai authorities said.
Peter Coker Jr., 54, was arrested last week by Thai police in the resort area of Phuket, more than three months after he, his father, Peter Coker Sr., and an associate, James Patten, were indicted in New Jersey federal court.
The 12-count complaint alleges financial crimes related to two publicly traded companies, Hometown International, which owned only a modest, now-closed deli in Paulsboro, New Jersey, and E-Waste, a shell company that had no assets.
Coker Jr., an American who most recently was known to be living and working as a businessman in Hong Kong, is being held in a Bangkok jail for the next several weeks before his expected extradition, the Associated Press reported Friday.
Thai police, in a statement, said Coker Jr. entered the country with a passport issued by the Caribbean island of St. Kitts and Nevis. That nation sells citizenship in exchange for investments there, the AP noted.
“Mr. Coker Jr. voluntarily consented to be extradited to the U.S., which has simplified the court’s legal process,” Teerat Limpayaraya, a prosecutor in Thailand’s Attorney General’s office, told the AP.
“We have to complete a 30-day waiting period as required by Thai law before sending him back,” said Teerat.
The prosecutor said also told the AP that Coker Jr. “was visibly frail when he was taken in and told us that he needs medical treatment for his liver disease.,”
“We believe that he entered Thailand with a possible plan to settle here,” Teerat said.
U.S. prosecutors accuse the Cokers and Patten of a scheme to bid up the value of shares of Hometown International and E-Waste, both of which had high market capitalizations despite holding little if any assets of value, to make them more attractive to private firms as merger candidates. Both companies later found merger partners.
Coker Jr. had served as chairman of Hometown International.
While Pattan and Coker Sr., have made court appearances since their arrest, Coker Jr. was believed to be at large until his arrest last week.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey, which is prosecuting the case, confirmed Coker Jr.’s apprehension in Thailand, but declined to comment further.