Vincent Bertollini’s ties spurred his capture

SANDPOINT — If not for his friends and associates, there’s a good chance fugitive Vincent Bertollini would have avoided detection in his flight from drunken-driving charges in Idaho.

“Mister Bertollini has been on the radar of the FBI for many years because of his affiliations with the Aryan Nations,” FBI Agent Norm Brown said on Friday, two days after Bertollini was apprehended in New Mexico. “It was in our best interest to locate him.”

Bertollini is being held at a jail in Albuquerque, N.M., awaiting extradition back to Idaho, Brown said. The status of the extradition proceedings is still unclear, though.

Bonner County Deputy Prosecutor Roger Hanlon, who is handling the Bertollini case, has an ironclad ban on media inquiries.

“No,” he said before a question could be posed on Thursday. “No comments on pending cases.”

Bertollini, 67, was arrested at a Santa Fe, N.M., check-cashing business on Wednesday. Brown, a spokesman for the FBI’s Inland Northwest Joint Terrorism Task Force, said an agent discovered Bertollini was using his alternate surname, Bert, to cash checks in the Southwest.

“She determined that Bertollini had been cashing checks in 2005 and early 2006 in El Paso, Texas, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. She sent a lead down there to the FBI in both cities to contact local check-cashing businesses, particularly the ones he had frequented, and enlisted their cooperation,” said Brown.

The FBI isn’t disclosing who was supplying Bertollini with the checks.

Bertollini didn’t put up a fight during his arrest, but he wasn’t entirely cooperative, either.

“He admitted his identity. He answered some of the agent’s questions, but certainly not all, said Brown.

Brown said Bertollini’s pickup truck was searched, leading to the discovery of a sawed-off shotgun and a .308-caliber rifle. Federal prosecutors are contemplating a weapons possession violation against Bertollini because of the illegally modified shotgun, according to Brown.

Brown said Bertollini had been living at residence in Santa Fe, the same town where his ex-wife lives, but agents do not believe they were living together. Bertollini apparently had sporadic jobs, but Brown was not aware what those might have been.

Investigators doubt Bertollini was living abroad since absconding on the eve of his July 2001 trial in 1st District Court.

“We’ve come to the conclusion he probably did not leave the country,” Brown said.

Bertollini is charged with his third-offense DUI and resisting arrest. He faces up to 10 years in prison if a jury convicts him.

“He broke the law, we’ve got a good case and we’ll move forward,” Sandpoint Police Chief Mark Lockwood said on Friday.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Bonner County Daily Bee, USA
Apr. 15, 2006
Keith Kinnaird

Religion News Blog posted this on Monday April 17, 2006.
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