Mississippi fugitive captured in Las Vegas

Mitchell Baria (Photo courtesy Harrison County Sheriff's Dept.)
Mitchell Baria (Photo courtesy Harrison County Sheriff's Dept.)

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Seven months after challenging authorities to "catch me if you can," a man charged with home repair fraud on the coast is back behind bars. Mitchell Baria, who was on the FBI's Most Wanted list, was arrested Sunday in Las Vegas.

In March 2007, Baria was arrested in Georgia. He was sent back to Mississippi to face three counts of Home Repair Fraud in Harrison County, and five more from the Attorney General. The FBI said additional charges are pending against Baria in Jackson and Hancock counties.

Homeowners who hired Baria to level foundations, erect walls, and make other major repairs to their hurricane damaged properties told WLOX News they paid Baria thousands and thousands of dollars, but what they got in return was shoddy and unfinished work.

This Spring, Baria failed to show up for his trial on two of the fraud cases. Authorities say he sent a message to the court through his fiance' that he would not come back to Mississippi for the trial, or ever again. Officials say he challenged them to "catch me if you can."

That's when Baria was added to the FBI's most wanted list as a fugitive to avoid prosecution.

Sunday, Baria was involved in a violent confrontation with a camper at Lake Meade National Park and fled into the desert. Park Rangers and the FBI tracked him and eventually arrested Baria at the campground.

Mitch Baria is currently in the Clark County, Nevada jail awaiting extradition back to Mississippi.