British fugitive faces additional US charges

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) -- A British man suspected of pulling off a $1.5 million heist in England nearly 20 years ago was indicted Tuesday on identity theft and other charges in Missouri, where he was captured earlier this month.

A federal grand jury in Springfield indicted Edward J. Maher, 56, of Ozark, on one count each of aggravated identity theft, document fraud and being an illegal alien with a firearm. The indictment replaced a federal criminal complaint filed Feb. 9 that charged Maher with a single count of being an illegal alien with a firearm, Beth Phillips, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri, said in a statement.

Maher, who worked for a security company, had been wanted in England for the 1993 theft of about $1.5 million in British currency from an armored van during a bank delivery. Maher has been accused of taking the van and the money while another guard was inside the bank.

He has been in federal custody since his arrest Feb. 8 in Ozark, where he had been living under his brother's name and working as a cable technician. Maher told federal agents he's been in the U.S. since 1998. The original affidavit filed when Maher was arrested said he had over the years used at least two aliases, Michael Maher and Stephen King.

David Mercer, a federal public defender appointed to represent Maher, declined to comment Tuesday, saying he had not yet seen the indictment.

According to the indictment, Maher used a Social Security card that was not issued to him in May 2010, and in October 2011, he used another means of identification that wasn't his. He's also accused of illegally possessing four firearms -- two pistols and two rifles. The indictment requires Maher to forfeit those weapons to the government.

Don Ledford, a spokesman for Phillips' office, said Tuesday that discussions about Maher's extradition to England to face possible charges in the 1993 robbery "are ongoing."

Maher's daughter-in-law, Jessica King, 25, of Springfield, has been pursuing a $158,000 reward for alerting authorities to Maher's whereabouts, according to her lawyer.

King's lawyer, Brandon Potter, told the Kansas City Star that some reports from the time of the robbery suggested that the reward was conditional, requiring not only Maher's arrest but his conviction as well. It even could require the full return of the money stolen from the robbery, he said.

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