After 6 years of running, fugitive gallery owner is headed to prison

ST. LOUIS (AP) – Brent Farris spent six years eluding U.S. authorities by moving through a host of countries on several continents after he pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud. Now, Farris is finally going to prison.

Farris, 49, the former owner of Farris Gallery in St. Louis, was sentenced Friday to 14 months in prison for failure to appear. It ended an ordeal that began in July 2004, when he first pleaded guilty to fraud.

He admitted in the plea that in 2002, he transferred ownership of an oil painting to someone else so that person could auction the painting at Christie’s in New York. The goal was to conceal proceeds of the sale from his bankruptcy case. He was sentenced to 20 months in prison and ordered to pay $300,000 in restitution.

Farris was released on bond prior to going to prison and he fled the country. The U.S. Marshal’s Service tracked him through 14 countries on three continents over a five-year period, federal prosecutors said.

The Marshal’s Service was able to provide information to Italian authorities that led to Farris’ arrest in Rome in 2009. He was taken to an Italian prison for a time, but eventually released to house arrest while the U.S. sought extradition, prosecutors said.

He fled again. This time, he ended up in Mexico.

In 2010, Mexican Immigration officials apprehended Farris in Guadalajara, again based on information from U.S. law enforcement. He was deported back to the U.S. and placed in the custody of the U.S. Marshals. He pleaded guilty in March.

“The Marshal’s Service deserves a tremendous amount of credit for their perseverance and tenacity in the pursuit of Mr. Farris,” U.S. Attorney Rich Callahan said.

Farris’s attorney, Hiram Eastland, called the sentence imposed by Judge Catherine Perry “very fair and balanced.”

“She did exactly what the Supreme Court has called for, in that she tailored her sentence to the circumstances of the defendant who was before the court,” Eastland said.

The 14-month sentence on the failure to appear charge will run consecutive to the 20-month sentence from 2004, U.S. Attorney spokeswoman Jan Diltz said.

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