FBI Returns Captured Orange County Fugitive Found in Europe

Sears, no Roebuck

Southern California law enforcement officials wondered for 25 months where on the planet Irvine’s Johnny Sears, Jr. had fled in hopes of avoiding a 2017 sentencing that punished him with a 365-day jail term for making criminal threats to a girlfriend.

The Weekly, which exclusively featured Sears’ run after he violated the terms of a $100,000 pre-sentencing bond, learned the answer today: Budapest, according to the FBI’s Orange County field office.

But the onetime Department of Defense contractor, who specialized in computer software development, wasn’t captured in a raid.

Incredibly, Sears may have accidentally initiated his own September 3 arrest.

Veteran FBI Special Agent Stephen Wrathall says the fugitive contacted the U.S. embassy in Hungary’s historic capital by email to complain about what he claims was a corrupt prosecution and to seek a pow-wow with the ambassador.

Instead, local police, who’d been alerted about the 42-year-old’s planned visit to the embassy, intercepted him on charges he’d entered their nation illegally.

Illustration by Mark Dancey

Late last week, Wrathall and another FBI special agent escorted Sears, who waived extradition, on American Airlines for the 15-hour flight back to Los Angeles International Airport, where investigators from the Orange County district attorney’s office (OCDA) took custody on Oct 24.

The defendant, who’d been in continual, ranting contact with the Weekly about his situation, is now being housed in OC’s Theo Lacy Jail without a chance for bail.

In August, Sears sent me an obnoxious message boasting he was hiding in Budapest and challenged the FBI to find him.

Endearing love from Budapest!

Records show he is scheduled to appear in Orange County Superior Court on Nov. 8.

Laura Eimiller, an FBI spokeswoman, said Sears won’t face federal charges for fleeing and pursuing new related criminal counts is in the hands of Todd Spitzer’s OCDA.

A woman we’ll call Jane Doe dated Sears after meeting him in 2014 but the relationship turned sour when he allegedly threatened to bomb her for perceived infidelity after he claimed to see another man’s lewd crotch picture on her cell phone.

She alerted the Irvine Police Department and prosecutors launched a case that won a guilty plea deal with reduced charges after a whopping 35 months of negotiation.

Instead of the year jail term, Sears, who lived close to John Wayne Airport, now faces a potential three-year trip to state prison.

CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; obtained one of the last exclusive prison interviews with Charles Manson disciple Susan Atkins; won inclusion in Jeffrey Toobin’s The Best American Crime Reporting for his coverage of a white supremacist’s senseless murder of a beloved Vietnamese refugee; launched multi-year probes that resulted in the FBI arrests and convictions of the top three ranking members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department; and gained praise from New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing entrenched Southern California law enforcement corruption.

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