A Utah man accused of swindling money out of his fiance and fleeing to Mexico, only to be picked up in Cuba a year later, has pleaded not guilty to federal charges.

John Bradley Egan appeared in U.S. District Court on Monday for the first time after being handed over to U.S. authorities from Cuban police.

Egan, 42, is charged with bank fraud, computer fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme to take money from his fiance's online bank account and flee with the funds to Mexico.

According to a federal indictment, Egan had talked his fiancee into selling her North Salt Lake condo and starting a new life with him in Tampa, Fla., where they were to be married. Egan persuaded the woman, listed only as "L.C.," to drive with her daughter to Florida where he told her he would meet her. Instead, police say Egan drained her bank account of about $109,000 and stole his parents' passports and Social Security cards before he vanished in June 2006.

The mother of Egan's son said Egan talked about fleeing to Mexico or Canada to avoid paying child support.

Last June, a year later, federal officials were notified that Egan had been picked up in a broken-down boat in Cuba.

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According to the FBI, Egan had told Cuban officials that he had tried to set sail from Mexico to Ireland when his boat broke down. Egan reportedly spent some time in Cuban jail for having a forged passport. Through a diplomatic exchange, Cuba handed Egan over to U.S. officials.

In court Monday, Egan indicated he had no money to hire an attorney. A federal public defender was appointed for him.

A federal magistrate judge this week will determine if Egan, who has been held in federal custody since being handed over by Cuban officials, will be released pending the case.


E-mail: gfattah@desnews.com