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Authorities: Fugitive caught after taunting tweet

Posted: July 9, 2013 9:00 a.m.
Updated: July 9, 2013 9:00 a.m.
 

SAN DIEGO (AP) — "Catch me if you can."

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said Wanda Podgurski sent that taunting tweet after skipping trial in January while facing charges of insurance of fraud.

But then authorities did catch her.

Podgurski, 60, was captured on the Fourth of July in Rosarito Beach, Mexico, a popular retirement spot for American expatriates only 15 miles south of San Diego. She pleaded not guilty Monday to failure to appear while free on bail.

Podgurski was sentenced in absentia last month to more than 20 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $1 million in fines and restitution.

Three weeks after her initial tweet on June 5, Podgurski's feed read, "'Help find me before I con anyone else." Two other posts were links to stories about her vanishing act.

Podgurski's Twitter profile reads, "On the run possibly in Iran."

Her account follows 32 people and agencies, many of them FBI branches and other law enforcement authorities. Dumanis' office said the district attorney was the only one Podgurski followed while on the run.

The district attorney's office declined to say how authorities tracked down Podgurski, saying only that information from the Twitter account was turned over to its Computer and Technology Crime High-Tech Response Team, known by the acronym Catch.

Podgurski's attorney, Philip Kent Cohen, declined to comment.

The district attorney's office said Podgurski received $664,555 in disability payments when she was charged. While earning $44,000 a year as a clerk for Amtrak, she allegedly held six insurance policies with premiums that topped $60,000.

She made claims with all six insurance companies after reporting that she fell at her home in August 2006, prosecutors said. Private investigators working for the insurers reported seeing her walk stairs without assistance and drive to the store.

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