US judge denies bail for ex-Peruvian president Toledo

FILE - In this May 24, 2017 file photo, Peru's former President Alejandro Toledo addresses the New Economy Forum Globalization Dialogues at the United Nations in New York. Toledo, who faces corruption charges in his homeland, will appear before a federal judge in San Francisco Friday, July 19, 2019. Toledo was arrested in Northern California following an extradition request. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

A U.S. judge has denied bail for former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo after prosecutors argued he was a flight risk and pointed out officials found a suitcase with $40,000 in cash during his arrest

SAN FRANCISCO — A U.S. judge on Friday denied bail for former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo after prosecutors argued he was a flight risk and pointed out officials found a suitcase with $40,000 in cash during his arrest.

Magistrate Judge Thomas S. Hixson ordered Toledo, 73, held pending an extradition hearing scheduled for July 26.

U.S. Marshals detained Toledo at his Northern California home Tuesday on an extradition request.

The ex-president is wanted in his home country on accusations of taking $20 million in bribes from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.

Toledo denies the charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Elise Lapunzina told Hixson that the cash and the fact that Toledo has ties to other counties made him a flight risk. She said his wife, former Peruvian first lady Eliane Karp, is from Israel, a country that does not have an extradition agreement with Peru.

Toledo's attorney, Joseph Russoniello, argued for the former president to be released on bail, saying he has deep ties to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he came in the late 1960's to study economics.

Russoniello said the cash was his wife's money, and it was being used to pay for the couple's expenses.

Karp declined to comment after the hearing, saying only the word "liars" in Spanish as she walked out of the courtroom.

Toledo was Peru's president from 2001 to 2006 and has lived in California in recent years.

He had been a visiting scholar at Stanford University as recently as 2017, though the school has said it was an unpaid position. He earned a doctoral degree in education and two master's degrees from the university.

In March, he was arrested in Menlo Park on suspicion of public drunkenness at a restaurant but was released without charges.

Odebrecht in 2016 acknowledged in a plea agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to paying $800 million to officials throughout Latin America in exchange for lucrative public works contracts. The scandal also has tainted the careers of other former presidents in Peru who are under investigation for ties to Odebrecht.

In April, former President Alan García mortally wounded himself with a gunshot to his head as officers waited to arrest him in a graft probe linked to the scandal.

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