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FBI's Most Wanted fugitive doesn't fool tourist

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Local,Crime,Scott McCabe,Most Wanted,FBI

The D.C. private school teacher eluded federal authorities for nearly five years and landed on the FBI's Most Wanted list, but he was not able hide his identity from a tourist visiting Nicaragua.

Eric Justin Toth was using someone else's name and claiming to be performing charitable work. But the traveler recognized the scraggly-haired, gangly man as the person whose face had been splashed in media all around the world, on bus stops and in Times Square. She called the FBI on Thursday.

Federal authorities traced Toth's travel and financial records to an apartment where Nicaraguan police arrested him two days later. On Tuesday, he was in federal court in the District of Columbia to answer charges of possession of child pornography and production of child pornography. He's also facing federal charges in Maryland for producing child pornography.

Toth, now 31, a former third-grade teacher at the Washington National Cathedral's exclusive Beauvoir elementary school, fled the area in 2008 after school officials found a camera containing disturbing pictures.

"That media card contained many images that you expect to see on the camera of a teacher: pictures of kids smiling, playing in the classroom," said U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen Jr. "It also contained images that would be any parent's worst nightmare: pornographic images of a young boy, and a video of an adult male fondling that little boy."

According to charging documents made public Tuesday, investigators also found a video showing Toth molesting a boy inside a classroom at Beauvoir.

FBI agents said they believe there are multiple victims, and they are searching for more.

A judge ordered Toth be held without bond until a hearing to be held later. The production of child pornography charge carries a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years. The possession charge carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.

A news source in Nicaragua told The Washington Examiner that Toth was consulting for a nongovernmental organization that worked on youth issues. He also presented himself as a television producer filming a wine commercial.

He was living at an apartment with a 53-year-old woman in the suburb of Esteli.

FBI officials said they did not know what he was doing in Nicaragua, and that is part of the investigation.

The FBI added Toth to the most-wanted list last year, after removing Osama bin Laden and Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger.

Toth became the 495th person named to the list, created in 1950. One-third of the 469 fugitives whose names have appeared on that list were nabbed as a result of a tip from the public. The tourist, who was not from the D.C. region, is eligible for a $100,000 reward.

smccabe@washingtonexaminer.com

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