Fugitive on the run for 8 years sentenced to federal prison

Yousef Ishaq Abuteir, 58, ordered to 60 months in federal prison


HOUSTON – A fugitive who was on the run for eight years has been sentenced to federal prison.

The Department of Justice said Yousef Ishaq Abuteir, 58, was charged on July 9, 2007, and pleaded guilty on April 14, 2008, to conspiracy and evading more than $3.3 million in federal fuel excise taxes in Texas and Louisiana between October 2001 and November 2003.

An indictment alleged that Abuteir was involved in the acquisition of more than 13 million gallons of kerosene from Calcasieu Refinery in Lake Charles, Louisiana, without paying federal excise taxes. The DOJ said he and other defendants were able to avoid paying the tax by falsely stating the fuel was for export, as opposed to being for on-road use.

Officials said that kerosene was then taken to Houston, where it was blended with middle distillate oil, a by-product of asphalt production. That blend was then sold to consumers as diesel fuel.

When Abuteir made his guilty plea in 2008, he was also charged and convicted in state court on charges related to the same scheme.

However, the DOJ said, prior to his sentencing Abuteir fled the country.

A federal arrest warrant was issued in February 2009, and Abuteir was added to the EPA's Most Wanted list. In 2014, he was located in Israel and extradited to the U.S.

“The defendant and his cohorts lined their pockets and scammed the American taxpayers out of millions of dollars,” Special Agent Rick Goss said. “Today, justice is served and this defendant is finally going to prison."

Abuteir was ordered to serve 60 months in federal prison and pay $3,328,459 in restitution.

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