Caught hiding in Oklahoma City: Federal fugitive accused of scamming political donors out of $250k

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) - A man on the run from federal authorities for allegedly scamming thousands of political donors was caught hiding in Oklahoma City after he ran a red light.

John Pierre Dupont, 81, also known as John Gary Rinaldo of California, was arrested Sunday and booked into the Oklahoma County jail as a fugitive from justice.

Dupont ran a massive scheme that spanned back to 2015, according to a federal complaint.

He allegedly fooled thousands of people into donating to fake political action committees or to campaigns.

Documents allege victims were scammed out of about $100 to $200, amounting to more than $250,000 that he pocketed.

Oklahoma City attorney Tommy Adler with Atkins & Markoff Law Firm explained this is just one form of wire fraud.

"It was up to 15 websites that were raising campaign funds to support candidates," Adler said. "However, none of that money ever made it to the candidates."

The websites purportedly supported democratic candidates including Bernie Sanders and Beto O'Rourke.

Dupont even allegedly wrote thank you notes to the donors posing as candidates, landing him an identity theft charge.

"That's a little unique," Adler said. "If you're looking to get clicks online, if you're looking to get attention, if you're looking to cast a wide net, I think using Bernie Sanders and people like this that are trying to use grassroots fundraising, is pretty devious and pretty clever."

Dupont was arrested in Arizona in March, and released on a $100,000 bond. He was expected back in federal court in Manhattan, N.Y., where the charges were filed, later that month. However, he didn't show up.

He's been on the run since, off the radar until Sunday.

That's when he made a wrong move a block away from the house he's been living in.

Dupont was pulled over after running a stop sign. When the officer ran his name, he popped up in their computers as a fugitive from justice, according to an Oklahoma City police report.

"[He] has a criminal history," Adler said. "He’s been in federal custody for fraud type cases before. He at one time had escaped from a minimum security federal facility."

By Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York did not return requests for information on what will happen with Dupont next.

"My guess is he's not going to be on bond anytime soon," Adler said. "With a history of escape and then failing to appear, and hiding out in Oklahoma, my guess is he's going to remain in custody in Manhattan until he either resolves his case with a plea bargain of some kind or with a jury trial."

 

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