Obama Campaign Returns Funds to Fugitive Rojas-Cardona's Family


"Pepe" Rojas-Cardona (Photo: Mexico House of Representatives)

Barack Obama's election campaign has decided to re-pay donations from relatives of a fugitive, Juan Jose Rojas-Cardona. His brothers in Chicago and others had donated more than $200,000 altogether.

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As recently as last year the family sought a pardon for Rojas-Cardona, who jumped bail and fled to Mexico in 1994 to escape a federal drug charge, and a five-year sentence for fraud.

Rojas-Cardona, known as "Pepe", is now a wealthy businessman in Mexico, where he is nicknamed the "casino czar". A leaked State Department cable from 2009 says he was suspected of having a business rival killed.

Janet Lyness, attorney of Johnson County, Iowa, says there's still an outstanding warrant for his arrest, on a charge of violating his probation. She told the New York Times that she "can think of few people who are less deserving of a pardon".

Friends from his youth in Iowa are shocked by reports of how he's changed.

The story was broken by Mike McIntire in the New York Times.