Officials: Defendant flees Philly courthouse

March 7, 2009 2:05:44 PM PST
Authorities have issued a bench warrant for a Philadelphia man who allegedly slipped out of a federal courthouse as he was about to be sentenced on identity theft and fraud charges. Thirty-year-old Charles McLaurin pleaded guilty in December and had been free under house arrest. He was facing 10 years in federal prison.

U.S. District Judge Bruce Kauffman had briefly recessed court and returned to his chambers to weigh the sentence Thursday. McLaurin left the defense table to talk with his girlfriend.

McLaurin's attorney, Michael Graves, says McLaurin and his girlfriend then left the courtroom. His girlfriend came back alone.

Authorities say McLaurin and others used stolen identities to make purchases from retailers and then returned the merchandise for cash. Investigators say the fraud exceeded $100,000.

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