NJ judge: Man must return to Portugal for sentence

January 19, 2012 - 6:55 PM

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A Portuguese man facing a sentence in his home country for plotting to kill his ex-wife has been ordered to be returned to Portugal, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

Manuel Albert Soares has fought extradition since he was detained in New Jersey last year.

A trial court acquitted Soares in 2007, but Portugal's Supreme Court of Justice reversed the acquittal and sentenced him to four years and six months in prison.

By the time authorities issued a warrant for his arrest in 2009, Soares was in the U.S. Last year, the warrant was discovered when he was pulled over on the New Jersey Turnpike for driving in a carpool lane without the requisite number of passengers.

Soares and his attorney argued in U.S. District Court in December that the Portuguese court's decision hadn't been based on enough evidence to meet the burden of proof required to extradite someone from the U.S.

The U.S. Attorney's Office contended it wasn't the role of the U.S. courts to retry the case or consider evidence from the trial in deciding whether he met the criteria for extradition.

Thursday's ruling upheld the decision of a U.S. Magistrate in Newark last May.

Soares was charged with attempted aggravated homicide in Portugal for trying to hire two hit men in 2006 to kill his ex-wife, Maria Teresa Franqueira Mourao, after Soares was fired from a business the couple jointly owned, according to court papers. The men he had tried to hire reached out to police and cooperated with authorities to continue negotiations with Soares on the hit, which was partially paid for but never carried out.

Soares, a native of Newark who holds dual American and Portuguese citizenship, has denied the charges.