Mississippi fugitive captured in Las Vegas

Published 2:19 pm Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The FBI says a man targeted in a national search after he fled Mississippi to avoid home repair fraud charges has been captured at a Nevada campground.

Frederick T. Brink, special agent in charge of the FBI in Mississippi, said Michell Lamar Baria was captured on Sunday and was being held at the Clark County, Nev., Detention Center, awaiting extradition to Mississippi.

Authorities said Baria was involved in a violent altercation with a camper at Lake Mead National Park and fled into the desert after being confronted by park officers.

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Baria had been arrested in 2007 on three home repair fraud charges by the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department and had been arrested by the Mississippi attorney general’s office on five similar charges. Additional cases are pending against Baria in Jackson County and Hancock County.

Authorities said that in March 2007, Baria was found to have moved from Mississippi to Columbus, Ga. He waived extradition and was returned to Mississippi and later posted bond on all charges.

Baria was scheduled for trial on two cases in April of this year but failed to appear in court. Brink said the wanted man sent a message through his fiancee saying he would not come to the trial and would never return to Mississippi.

Baria also issued a personal challenge of “catch me if you can,” the FBI said.

The FBI said it determined Baria and his fiancee, Erica Brant, left Georgia and fled to Tucson, Ariz. In August, the two went to Las Vegas.