2009: Year of the Cello?
The buzz of course being generated by news accounts of a Federal grand jury investigating the former Pittsburgh real estate developer and cellist. At this point I am unaware of any criminal charges hanging over him. Plenty of civil actions I read, but I am pretty sure you can't start arresting folks, let alone extraditing them, on civil complaints.
Assuming the grand jury does hand down a criminal indictment then things get a little interesting. Going back to KDKA's headline... There is indeed an extradition treaty between Brazil and the US which includes potential extradition for fraud and bankruptcy fraud charges which would seem to apply. BUT, the treaty explicitly says that a country is not obliged to hand over its own nationals. Read this clause:
There is no obligation upon the requested State to grant the extradition of a person who is a national of the requested State, but the executive authority of the requested State shall, subject to the appropriate laws of that State, have the power to surrender a national of that State if, in its discretion, it be deemed proper to do so.
So they could hand him over if they really wanted to, but have no obligation to do so if he is a Brazilian citizen. I am presuming Katz is still a Brazilian citizen, but have no info on it either way. Just seems to me that this all may not rise to the level that the Brazilian government feels they need to go out of their way to hand him over. There is also an exception in the treaty to handing over people who are being prosecuted for political reasons. I would just speculate that if push comes to shove the first line of defense Katz would use is that he is caught in some political infighting here more than anything else. Even if that is not credible here, it could make some sense to Brazilian officials especially given how odd the circumstances are. Believe me when I tell you folks in a lot of the world just don't understand what counts as scandalous in the US.
The only reason to go into that is because I have to believe the improbability of actually getting Katz himself would play into the US Attorney's office to pursue the matter. That, plus the improbability Katz will ever be able to make restitution in any way would be another factor. If the focus is not really Katz then it comes down to all the local actors who will be caught up in this.
So why care about the fellow and maybe we should focus on picking up the pieces and moving forward. Federal attorney's offices are not the largest of offices and you have to believe what they spend time on is chosen with intent. Some speculation I have is not even worthy of blogging yet, but I wonder if the ongoing investigation already has tentacles in some seemingly unrelated news stories of late, some local and some far. The potential implications for a number of folks still active in town are all hanging out there. If only Katz had tried to put some billboards on his properties the story would be complete.