San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

U.S. Pastor Faces Extradition on Fraud Charges

A businessman and former San José pastor, Richard Hinkle, was arrested here last week after a U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania requested his extradition on charges of fraud, according to representatives of the Judicial Branch.

Prosec utors in the United States allege Hinkle swindled 30 people out of a total of  $3.6 million through the now-defunct Cornerstone International Bank on the Caribbean island of Grenada, said Marcia

Bosshardt, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in San José.

According to wire reports, prosecutors also claim Hinkle paid investors about $640,000 while diverting money to his own accounts. He is charged with 19 counts of wire fraud and 40 counts of money laundering, the Associated Press reported.

COSTA Rican judicial authorities sentenced Hinkle to two months in preventive prison on Feb. 27, a standard sentence in extradition cases since that is the amount of time requesting countries have to submit paperwork required by Costa Rican law.

The 38-year-old suspect is being held in San Sebastian Prison in San José, said Sandra Castro, spokeswoman for the Judicial Branch.

A Grenada high court ordered Cornerstone International Bank to liquidate its assets in July 2003, according to a release from J.A. Seales & Co., a West Indies law firm. Hinkle claimed to have worked as an “office coordinator” at the bank, but told The Tico Times he had no official title (TT, Nov. 7, 2003).

HINKLE, who also owns the Brand Fashion clothing store in the Real Cariari Mall, was the victim of a kidnapping in October of last year, which he speculated then might have had something to do with his involvement at the now-defunct bank in Grenada.

The three-day ordeal began with Hinkle’s capture at gunpoint in front of his wife and four of his six children, and ended when a special Costa Rican police unit raided an Escazú apartment and rescued him (TT, Oct. 31, 2003).

Hinkle’s suspected kidnappers, 52- year-old Yadira Arguedas and 39-year-old Rafael Fallas, a former police officer, are still serving preventative prison sentences assigned after the kidnapping, Castro said. Hinkle told The Tico Times last October, “There are people from my past who might be trying to get even with me, but I didn’t do anything wrong or illegal.”

Investigators from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) visited Hinkle in Costa Rica after the kidnapping, a step taken only when the FBI has a special interest in persons or circumstances involved in the crime, according to the U.S. Embassy (TT, Nov. 7, 2003).


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