Max Factor heir returns to face prison term
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Fugitive cosmetics heir Andrew Luster returned to California from Mexico Thursday to begin serving a 124-year prison sentence for raping three women. His return came more than five months after he fled the United States during trial.
The 39-year-old Max Factor heir was taken off the plane in handcuffs and placed in an FBI vehicle at Los Angeles International Airport at about 12:45 p.m. (3:45 p.m. EDT). Federal agents then took him through customs and handed him over to Ventura County sheriff's deputies.
Several hours later, Luster arrived at Wasco State Prison, a 620-bed facility used to provide short-term housing while prison officials evaluate new inmates and decide where to house them for the long term.
"He'll be treated just like any other inmate," a Wasco prison spokesman said.
Luster is the great-grandson of Max Factor, who built a cosmetics empire in the 1920s that catered to the movie industry. He was captured in Mexico Tuesday night.
Mexican authorities ordered him deported Thursday, and he was brought back to Los Angeles on an "uneventful" commercial flight, said Matt McLaughlin, an FBI spokesman in Los Angeles.
A jury in Ventura County, north of Los Angeles, convicted Luster in absentia after he fled the country during his January trial. He was charged with raping three women after drugging them with GHB, the so-called date rape drug.
Police said they found videotapes of Luster having sex with unconscious women, but defense lawyers insisted the acts were consensual.
"They all took drugs together, this was a mutually enjoyable experience," Luster attorney Roger Diamond said. Diamond already has appealed his client's conviction, he said.
Luster's arrest came in dramatic fashion early Wednesday morning while a legal liaison for the FBI was en route from Guadalajara, Mexico, to Puerto Vallarta to follow up on a tip from an American couple.
The couple had been in contact with Luster while on vacation, according to FBI Special Agent in Charge Ralph Boelter, and identified him while sharing vacation pictures with a friend. The couple then contacted bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman and later the FBI, Boelter said.
Chapman found Luster first and was arrested along with four others, including a television camera crew, who were traveling with him.
Police in Mexico were holding Chapman, his two sons and two members of the crew, said Puerto Vallarta police spokesman Sebastian Zavala
Bounty hunting is illegal in Mexico, and prosecutors are expected to decide whether to bring kidnapping charges against Chapman and his companions.
Mexican consul Martha Lara told CNN that Chapman was not permitted to enter the country to pursue fugitives.
Luster was spotted Tuesday night in a nightclub by Chapman, a Honolulu-based bounty hunter, said Beth Smith, an executive assistant at Duane Chapman's Bail Bonds. Smith also said Chapman detained Luster and then contacted the FBI and Mexican authorities but her story differs from official accounts.
Zavala disputes that account, saying police were summoned after reports of a fight outside a nightclub in the resort city on Mexico's Pacific coast. Witnesses reported that the people involved in the melee fled in two sport utility vehicles, which police stopped a short time later.
Luster, who was carrying identification with the name David Carrera, was identified from photographs, Zavala said. Chapman told police his objective was to capture Luster and return him to the United States, and the TV crew was on hand to record the capture of the wealthy fugitive.
According to police, an aerosol solution was used to subdue Luster.