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After 23 years as fugitive, NY caviar distributor pleads guilty in customs fraud scheme

A New York caviar distributor who evaded arrest for nearly a quarter century has pleaded guilty to unlawfully importing more than 100,000 pounds of Russian and Iranian caviar in the 1980s.

Isidoro "Mario" Garbarino entered the plea Thursday in federal court in Manhattan.

Garbarino admitted using schemes to avoid high taxes while importing caviar worth more than $10 million from 1984 to 1987. He was president of a now-defunct company that supplied luxury food items to prominent gourmet stores.

Garbarino fled in 1989 as he faced an indictment returned two years earlier. U.S. marshals arrested him in September after he was caught changing planes in Panama.

The 69-year-old Italian citizen faces up to four years in prison at a Jan. 7 sentencing. He has agreed to pay $3 million in restitution.

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