|(news-leader.com) - Immigration officials at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport arrested Antonio Alburquerque on Friday night as he re-entered the country from his native Dominican Republic, the U.S. Marshals Service confirmed.
It wasn’t immediately clear when Alburquerque would be returned to Springfield to stand trial on 19 felony child sexual assault charges.
A possible life sentence looms if he’s convicted. He’s accused of repeated sexual assaults on a minor from Nov. 16, 1992, and Dec. 31, 1994. Court documents said the abuse began when the victim was younger than 14.
Greene County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Wan said her office was pleased to learn of Alburquerque’s capture.
“We’re ready to start prosecuting this case,” Wan said. “Clearly my office is pleased he was apprehended in a timely manner.”
Wan said that she didn’t have any further details of the capture Friday night.
Alburquerque’s capture follows his troubling release.
Prosecutors considered the 56-year-old Alburquerque a flight risk because of his dual U.S. and Dominican Republic citizenship and his imminent retirement as a federal employee at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield. They’d requested Alburquerque surrender his passport to authorities and be fitted with a GPS monitoring device before his release.
But Alburquerque managed to bond out directly from jail without the enforcement of those conditions.
A warrant had been issued for his arrest days after he bonded out of the Greene County Jail on June 18 on a $50,000 bond and missed a June 22 hearing.
Since then, legal system officials — from clerks to prosecutors to judges — have discussed procedural reforms to prevent such a release from happening again.
Judge Dan Conklin, who said he released Alburquerque believing Alburquerque already had been fitted with a monitoring device, said it felt good to have him in custody.
Conklin said that in some ways, the capture spoke well of the system. Bail bondsmen generally capture the people who jump bond, and they have more legal leeway than law enforcement. In a case such as this one, for example, where the chase crosses international borders, bail bondsmen don’t have to initiate extradition procedures, he said.
Still, he said, there’s room for improvement.
“We’re going to make some adjustments to our system,” Conklin said, referring to discussions spurred by this case to streamline release procedures and bond requirement enforcement. “The fundamental issue is getting all the departments working together. We’ll get it worked out.”