U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of California
(415) 436-7200
March 13, 2015

Escapee from San Francisco Federal Building Results in Additional Charges Against Alleged Art Fraudster

SAN FRANCISCO—Yesterday a grand jury returned a superseding indictment against Luke D. Brugnara, adding charges that he escaped from custody and violated a court order governing a furlough established by the district court, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge David Johnson and U.S. Marshal Don O’Keefe.

Brugnara, 50, previously had been charged with mail and wire fraud, in addition to false declarations before a court, in connection with his alleged agreement to purchase several works of art for a combined total of approximately $11,000,000. The new indictment re-alleges those charges, and adds that on February 5, 2015, Brugnara violated the terms of a court order when he escaped from his lawyer’s custody at 450 Golden Gate Avenue in San Francisco, California. A federal court order furloughed Brugnara to the custody of his lawyer in the federal building for the purpose of preparing for trial. After absconding, Brugnara remained a fugitive for six days until he was apprehended in Los Gatos, California, on February 11, 2015. He has remained in custody since.

Brugnara was apprehended as a result of a cooperative effort by the United States Marshals Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. His next court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday, March 17, at 2:00 p.m. before United States District Judge William Alsup.

Please note that an indictment contains only allegations and, as with all defendants, Brugnara must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. The maximum statutory penalty for mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341, and wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, is 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, forfeiture, and restitution. The maximum statutory penalty for false declarations to a court, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1623, and escape, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 751(a), is five years in prison, a fine of $250,000, forfeiture, and restitution. The penalty for contempt of court, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 401(3), is at the discretion of the court. Any sentence following conviction, however, would be imposed by the Court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin Kingsley and Robin Harris are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Jessica Meegan, Trina Khadoo, and Mary Mallory. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Marshals Service.

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