An Australian fugitive who taunted the FBI about his life on the run has come unstuck in Brazil where he has been convicted of using a fake passport.
Sydney-born Bruce Sholtz Macedo is a wanted man in the US where he faces dual manslaughter charges and 20 years behind bars if convicted over a 2008 car crash in which he allegedly killed two men and left a woman seriously injured while drink-driving in Florida.
Seven years after he fled the US using false travel documents, Macedo was found by Fairfax Media last year, hiding out in Minas Gerais, a south-eastern state of Brazil – where he owns a retail aquarium shop, selling goldfish for a living.
Believing there to be no extradition treaty in place between Brazil and the US, Macedo goaded the FBI by declaring there was "no chance" of him ever returning to America to face justice.
In a further insult to the families of the two crash victims, he boasted about his life of freedom in South America, adding he "could not have chosen a better country to be stuck in".
But in an ironic twist, authorities in his apparent safe haven have now prosecuted him over the forged passport he used to enter the country, following his escape from the US.
He received a three-year and 97-day prison sentence to be served in the community with additional community service hours, but on appeal in January had it reduced to two years and 10 days, with additional restrictions yet to be determined."There is a zero per cent chance of me ever doing [jail] time in Brazil," the 39-year-old said when approached by Fairfax Media last week.
"Let me put it this way. For you to go to jail in Brazil, you have to be poor. You have got to be broke ... which thank God I ain't," he said.
Lawyers for Macedo had added financial difficulty to their list of reasons for an appeal, but the judge dismissed the request saying proof for such difficulty was not presented.
Macedo was raised in Paddington and attended Rainbow Street Public School and Catholic secondary school Marcellin College, both at Randwick. He spent his summers surfing at Maroubra and is an avid Wests Tigers fan.
By 2008, he was living in Palm Beach County, Florida, where he worked as a car salesman. On September 14 that year, he spent the day drinking at a friend's barbecue and was later observed climbing into the driver's seat of a car with friends Claudio Da Silva, Maria Nunes and Charles De Souza occupying the passenger seats.
The FBI has been chasing Bruce Sholtz Macedo since 2008 when he fled dual manslaughter charges. Photo: Supplied
A short time later, their vehicle smashed into a tree, killing De Souza and Da Silva instantly. Ms Nunes was rushed to a nearby hospital, as was Macedo who sustained concussion, a punctured lung and nine broken ribs.
In his interview with Fairfax Media last March, Macedo claimed all he could remember from that day were "flashes" but insisted he "wasn't the driver".
"I don't remember the crash, I don't even recall getting in the car but I'm certain I wasn't behind the wheel," he claimed. "I got scared. I was looking at a minimum sentence of 22 years – so I bolted."
According to the official police report, Macedo's injuries were "consistent" with being seated in the driver's position and the surviving passenger, Nunes, identified him as having been behind the wheel. When toxicology tests confirmed his blood-alcohol level had been over the legal limit, Macedo was charged with two counts of manslaughter and a third charge of contributing to serious bodily injury.
"I didn't want to put my life in the hands of the jury so I decided it would be best to flee," Macedo told Fairfax Media.
After paying $2000 for a fake passport, he hatched a plan to bypass the nearby airport at Miami and instead chance his luck with a departure from Daytona.
"The passport was really bad," he recalled. "It fooled the American officials but I ended up getting busted as soon as I stepped through Brazilian customs."
Following his arrest, he claims he told them "the whole story ... the truth ... that I was facing charges for something I did not do ... that I would have spent ... my life stuck in a Florida jail so I left".
But to his frustration, the Brazilian authorities never let the crime go.
Now he awaits a new hearing to confirm the reduced appeal sentence and its restrictions.
Despite having avoided jail, Macedo is destined to remain a virtual prisoner in Brazil, with an Interpol red notice ready to be enforced any time he sets foot in an airport outside Brazil or attempts to return to Australia.
"I miss that place," he said of Sydney, where his family are still based. "I would love to come back and visit."