Fugitive California family captured in St. Lucia

SAN FRANCISCO - A pair of lavish-living fugitives from Silicon Valley turned up on a Caribbean island, almost seven months after vanishing in a rented minivan with their two young children, nanny and dog.

Robert Morgan and his wife, Kimberly, fled prosecution on charges involving the theft of about $10 million from 700 clients through their ISU Diligent Insurance Agency in San Jose, said Stephen Lowney, a deputy district attorney in Santa Clara County.

The Morgans were roused from their beds at 5 a.m. Thursday by several dozen members of the Royal St. Lucia Police Force and one investigator from Santa Clara County, Lowney said.

''They didn't try and run,'' he said. ''They were shocked.''

They were tripped up by their own family members, who gave police a tip six weeks ago. It turned out that the four family members were living under the identities of their own cousins. The couple even took out credit cards in the cousins' names, Lowney said.

Lowney said the nanny, Jean Checketts, took on the identity of a friend of the Morgans, a fact investigators discovered after the tip prompted them to search the Internet and check birth and marriage certificates.

''The tip led us to Santa Clara County records, and from there we were able to determine that they had applied for those papers and were probably using them under assumed names,'' Lowney said.

That led them to St. Lucia, where the Morgans had arrived in January. They were living as Randy Sho and Jeanne Kay Kaneyuki in Cap Estate, one of the island's most exclusive residential areas, and seemed to earn their living by providing computer services to local businesses, island police said.

The couple's children, Taylor and Connor, who were 6 and 4 in January, were returned to San Jose on Sunday with their nanny, who is being treated as a witness and will not face charges, Lowney said.

Lowney wouldn't say where the children are. Robert Morgan's sister, Michelle Holscher, declined to comment to The Associated Press.

The Morgans were taken by U.S. Marshals Saturday to Puerto Rico, where they remain in prison pending an extradition hearing on Friday.

Already accused of embezzling money customers had given them to invest, and of collecting premiums for insurance policies that were never written, they now face charges of identity theft and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, Lowney said.

The family allegedly used embezzled money to finance a lavish lifestyle.

The couple always wore ''first-class'' clothing - ties, monogrammed shirts, and cuff links, said Dan Soukup, an associate who introduced the insurance business to Robert Morgan, a former mechanic.

They had a sporty 400 model Mercedes, Toyota Camry and a fully loaded van. They were among the first to buy into the posh Meadowlands housing development in South San Jose, Soukup said. They bought the latest technology gadgets and had a full-time nanny.

''They were living a good life, but it was above their means,'' Soukup said.

Soukup, who owns Soukup Insurance of Santa Clara, bought ISU after the authorities raided it. He recalled the days not long after authorities levied the charges against the couple.

''I asked him, 'Is it true?' and he said, 'Yeah.''' Soukup said. ''He did it. It was his responsibility.''

The family had last been seen in mid-January, hastily packing their belongings into a rented minivan and driving away from their $950,000 hillside home in San Jose.

''I didn't think much of it at the time. I thought they were just giving stuff to Goodwill,'' said their neighbor, Karen Simonsen. ''I'm certainly glad they caught them ... I'm surprised it took this long.''

Neighbors take turns watering the lawn. Rainwater sits in the pool; the furniture is gone. Last week, someone threw a rock through a front window, Simonsen said.

Becky Morales, who lives a couple of doors down on Meadowlands Lane, said neighbors were surprised by the couple's flight - but not their capture.

''They just seemed like a normal average typical family ... They drove a Mercedes, but a lot of people in the neighborhood did,'' Morales said. ''They're not professional criminals, so I don't think they could stay lost forever.''

Prosecutors hadn't thought the Morgans would flee. Both in their mid-30s, the couple hired attorneys, have children, have close relatives in California, had no passports and supposedly had no money left.

But it turned out they had $29,000 in cash, after selling their leased Mercedes and Toyota Camry, Lowney said.

And Robert Morgan's attorney, William Graysen, said the couple apparently panicked when authorities began investigating Mrs. Morgan as well as her husband. They feared for their children if both went to jail.

''They may convince themselves that they were doing this for their kids, but if they really cared about their kids they wouldn't have dragged them halfway across the world and given them fake names,'' Lowney said.


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