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Fugitive on 'Most Wanted' list returned to U.S.

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer
updated 2:50 AM EDT, Wed April 24, 2013
Eric Toth leaves the headquarters of the National Police in Managua after a press event on Monday.
Eric Toth leaves the headquarters of the National Police in Managua after a press event on Monday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Eric Toth is a suspected child predator who was captured in Nicaragua, officials said
  • He is a former school teacher and camp counselor whom authorities sought for five years
  • Toth was placed on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" fugitives list last April
  • NEW: Suspect entered no plea to child pornography-related charges and was ordered held

Washington (CNN) -- A suspected child predator who was a "most-wanted" fugitive when captured in Nicaragua appeared in federal court on Tuesday where he confirmed his identity and was ordered held.

Eric Toth, 31, a former private school teacher and camp counselor, entered no plea to charges of possession and production of child pornography.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan Kay said that Toth could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the counts that were included in a 2008 Maryland indictment.

Wearing a navy rain jacket, the bearded Toth confirmed his identity but made no other comments.

Teacher on FBI child pornography list

He was represented by a federal public defender, Michelle Peterson.

A preliminary hearing was set for May 23. He will remain in custody pending that proceeding.

FBI Assistant Director Valerie Parlave said investigators looking for Toth for five years received a "high quality" tip on April 18 and were able to take him into custody on Saturday in the small Nicaraguan community of Esteli.

Parlave said Toth had been living under an alias.

She credited Nicaraguan officials as well as U.S. law enforcement agencies for helping in the investigation.

The investigation of Toth began in June 2008 after pornographic images were found on a school camera that had been in his possession, authorities alleged.

They said they have identified at least one child victim in Maryland.

Toth was placed on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" fugitives list last April.

Nicaraguan authorities said Toth first entered the Central American country on October 12, 2012, using a false identity.

The director of Nicaragua's National Police described him as an expert at violating computer security systems.

"That allowed him to falsify American passports, a driver's license and credit cards from three American banks," Director General Aminta Granera said.

Masked police presented a handcuffed Toth before reporters in Managua on Monday. As he was escorted away in a patrol car, Toth told reporters that "the police have been very professional."

Journalist Samantha Lugo contributed to this report from Managua, Nicaragua.

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