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KUOW Blog

More than $1 million forfeited to Romanian government in connection with federal fraud case

A couple who constructed an elaborate bunker on their property near Olympia will forfeit more than a million dollars to the Romanian government, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Seattle.

The forfeiture comes after a years-long saga. It began when the Radu and Diana Nemes, a couple from Romania, allegedly engaged in a massive fraud and money laundering scheme to avoid paying imported diesel fuel taxes.

Eventually, the couple moved to Yelm, Wash., where earlier media reports say they joined Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment led by new age spiritual leader JZ Knight. While in Yelm, the couple purchased several properties.

In 2014, they waived extradition and returned to Romania. That same year, the FBI searched their properties.

According to reporting at the time by NBC News, agents found “a fully equipped and furnished underground bunker” along with weapons. The $1.2 million that will be returned to the Romanian government comes from the proceeds from the sale of the couple’s U.S. property and other assets.

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