Fugitive suicide faker goes to prison


WINNIPEG -- A Minnesota business magnate who faked his own suicide and snuck across the border to take up a quiet new life in Winnipeg hoping to evade years in prison was tripped up by the need to medicate his anxiety disorder, court heard Monday.

"I apologize to all of Canada for all the trouble I caused," Paul Decker, 37, also known as Travis Magdelena Scott, said after pleading guilty to possession of a loaded handgun, forgery and a Customs Act charge for failing to report to border officials.

Decker -- described as an intelligent and well-educated man who once owned a successful company providing software to the U.S. military and private business -- was handed a three-year, three-month sentence for his crimes while on the lam in Winnipeg between Sept. 7 and Dec. 22, 2011. He was credited for more than a year already spent behind bars.

In May 2011, Decker pleaded guilty and was pending sentencing in U.S. federal court to wire fraud and money laundering after defrauding an insurance company of at least $7 million through false claims, the FBI says.

That September, Minnesota sheriffs located a kayak containing a suicide note purporting to be from Decker. No body was ever found.

He secretly flew across the border in a small Piper airplane decked out with fake Nav Canada registration decals and stored it in a hangar at St. Andrews airport.

In the following months, Decker set up a new home in a downtown Winnipeg apartment -- even getting a cat -- and went about his new life, ostensibly aided by several forged IDs, Judge Wanda Garreck was told.

Cops caught up to him after he tried to obtain pills at a Pembina Highway drug store using a forged prescription and a sharp-eyed clerk grew suspicious and called it in.

Police seized several fake IDs and a loaded Colt .45-calibre pistol in a Jeep he had purchased. Cops then located many thousands in cash and gold and silver coins in his apartment, along with a stun gun, bear mace, more forged IDs and a document on how to change identities, according to the Crown.

Decker only had the pistol for protection as he was aware of Winnipeg's reputation as a "tough city," defence lawyer Eric Wach said.Decker faces the possibility of spending 30 years in a U.S. prison when he's sent back at the expiry of his current sentence.

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