Ocean Spray Cranberry Thief, Thought to be Lost at Sea, Arrested in Yuma
If you're awaiting sentencing after being convicted of ripping off a large-scale cranberry juice manufacturer for more than a million dollars, lost at sea isn't a bad place to be. Assuming you don't want to actually be lost at sea, but you want people to think you are, don't go to Yuma -- that's where authorities captured a wanted Massachusetts thief after he was reported missing at sea off the coast of California last week.
U.S. Marshals arrested 54-year-old Jim Repetto in Yuma this morning, just days after the federal fugitive was reported missing at sea off the coast of La Jolla near San Diego.
Repetto, you see, was wanted on a federal warrant after pleading guilty in October of last year to ripping off Ocean Spray Cranberries to the tune of $1.3 million through a mail fraud scam.
Repetto was awaiting sentencing, but did not abide by the terms of his release and a
federal warrant was issued for his arrest.
Knowing he faced the possibility of jail time, on Saturday, Repetto reportedly decided to go
for a swim. A friend reported him missing later that day, resulting in a massive search effort by the U.S. Coast Guard and San Diego lifeguards.
The search in the ocean was called off, but authorities continued to search for Repetto at the home of one of his associate living in Yuma, which is where he was found -- alive and dry -- this morning.
It appears Repetto was en-route to Mexico, where he reportedly told a friend he knew of places a person could go to disappear.
From San Diego's 10News.com (written prior to the discovery of Repetto in Yuma):
"It's strange. It's theater of the avant-garde that Jim Repetto would put on a wetsuit and swim in these kinds of conditions out in the Pacific Ocean," said Bill Pastore, a former co-worker of Repetto's. "I just have to scratch my head and say 'Wow.' "
Pastore also recalled one conversation the two had when Repetto told him: "Billy, there's places down in Mexico that you can go to that the United States government wouldn't dig for you."
"I wouldn't put it past Jim if they caught him in 10 years, coming into the United States somehow with a slight disguise if he's down in Mexico," added Pastore.
Andrew Good, Repetto's attorney in Boston, told 10News, "All I can say is he's my client, we were getting ready for sentencing and now it appears he has committed suicide."
Repetto is now awaiting extradition back to Boston, where his sentencing is scheduled for next month. It's unclear at the moment whether he'll face additional charges for wasting taxpayer resources used in the rescue effort.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.