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Fugitive Max Factor Heir Caught

Luster stands under arrest at the Puerto Vallarta Police Station, June 18, 2003, in Puerto Vallarta City, Mexico. He was picked up by Mexican police as he tried to escape bounty hunters who trailed him to this Mexican resort.
AP
Max Factor cosmetics heir and convicted rapist Andrew Luster was arrested Wednesday after five months on the run, picked up by Mexican police as he scuffled with bounty hunters who trailed him to this Mexican resort.

Earlier this year, a California court convicted and sentenced Luster in absentia to 124 years for multiple counts of rape, poisoning and drug possession involving three women. The 39-year-old great-grandson of makeup legend Max Factor disappeared in January during a recess in his trial.

Luster's attorneys told CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales once he is returned to the United States, they will resume efforts to have his court sentence overturned. Such efforts were dismissed by the courts while Luster remained at large.

Police spokesman Sebastian Zavala said Luster had been living in Puerto Vallarta about a month before bounty hunters tracked him down in his car before dawn Wednesday, seizing him in a noisy scuffle that prompted neighbors to call the police. The group headed out of town in two cars, apparently on their way to the United States with Luster, but were stopped by police outside of town, Zavala said.

A U.S. couple who socialized with Luster in Puerto Vallarta, then returned to the United States to see him pictured on television as a fugitive, tipped of the FBI and a bounty hunter, FBI spokeswoman Laura Bosley said in Los Angeles.


The Andrew Luster story. Tonight on 48 Hours. 10 p.m. ET/PT


Luster spent the last days before his arrest surfing, returning in the evenings to a 350-peso ($35)-a-night hotel next door to the federal justice department's local office, according to deputy hotel manager Oscar Lopez. Lopez gave Luster a discount because he had stayed at the same tidy, two-story hotel a year before.

"He seemed Mexican," Lopez said. "He spoke (Spanish) very well."

The U.S. consul to Puerto Vallarta, Kelly Trainor, was seen arriving at the police station where Luster was detained, but did not make a statement. Luster was later led by police from the station, pushed into a cage built into a police van and driven off to be handed over to federal officials on suspicion of violating Mexican visa laws.

City official Jose Barrera said Luster gave police a false name immediately after his arrest Wednesday but later revealed his true identity.

Arrested along with Luster were three bounty hunters and two journalists, all foreigners detained on charges of being in Mexico illegally, police official Irwin Ramirez said.

One of the alleged bounty hunters, who identified himself as Duane Chapman, shouted to reporters that police were treating him well and asked them to send greetings to his wife. Zavala said the two television crew members told police they worked for the television show America's Most Wanted.

Bounty hunting is considered illegal kidnapping under Mexican law, but it was not clear if authorities planned to file additional charges against the private investigators, who were detained initially because of the street scuffle.

FBI official Ralph Boelter was critical of the bounty hunters, saying their actions were "just beyond the bounds that I can condone."

In his statement to federal authorities, Luster complained that the bounty hunters had held him against his will, Ramirez said.

Earlier Wednesday, Luster nervously ran his hands through his hair as authorities led him into a public area of the police station so that an AP reporter could photograph him.

"I need help because they are trying to harm me," he said, referring to the bounty hunters.

Authorities said Luster, who lived off a trust fund and real estate investments, took three women to his home between 1996 and 2000 and raped them after giving them the so-called date-rape drug GHB.

A search of his home after his arrest in 2000 turned up videotapes of Luster having sex with women who appeared to be either asleep or unconscious. In one tape played in court after he disappeared, Luster is seen on camera having sex with a woman and declaring: "That's exactly what I like in my room: A passed-out beautiful girl."

In an exclusive interview with CBS News' 48 Hours before he disappeared, Luster painted the videotapes as innocent fun.

"It's one of those fun kind of things you do, you know?" he said. "Break out the video camera, put it on a tripod, let's see what it looks like. Let's videotape ourselves, then watch it. It's fun. A lot of couples do it. It's no big deal."

His attorneys said the sex was consensual, suggesting the women were feigning sleep to help him film pornographic movies. They also disputed that Luster was a fugitive and suggested he could have been abducted or involved in an accident.

Just last week, a California appellate court turned aside the appeal of Luster's conviction, saying he had forfeited his right to appeal by jumping bail. The California Supreme Court is expected to be asked to review the decision.

Barry Novack, an attorney for one of Luster's alleged victims whom Novack identified only as "Shauna Doe," said his client was "thrilled" to hear of the arrest. Shauna Doe testified in the criminal case and is suing Luster for sexual assault.

"Shauna has not been able to escape from the torment that she went through," Novack said. "Now we're waiting for civil justice to be done by bringing him to account for the terrible things he did to her and to the other women."

Ventura County Sheriff Bob Brooks said he was grateful that justice was served and that "there is some closure for the victims involved."

Brooks said, however, that despite much mention of Luster's forfeited US$1 million bail, anything the bounty hunter might collect would be far less.

"Our understanding is that none of the bail money would be going to the bounty hunter," he said. "There was a US$10,000 reward, put up half by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, half by the sheriff's office, that would possibly be eligible for the person that assisted us."