SOUTH BEND — A former amusement park operator’s run for the border has come to an end.
Robert Anthony “Tony” Merrill, 52, appeared in Pacific County Superior Court on Friday afternoon, after being apprehended in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico earlier this week. Federal marshals escorted Merrill to Washington, according to a statement from prosecutor Mark McClain.
Merrill was first arrested on suspicion of dealing heroin and other drug-related offenses in the spring, after police raided his former home and go-cart and moped rental businesses in Long Beach.
Superior Court Judge Doug Goelz released Merrill on $250,000 bond and allowed him to travel to California, where he was supposed to enter “Fresh Start,” a private drug treatment center. In an April letter to the court, a Fresh Start representative said Merrill would be carefully supervised while in treatment, and escorted by staff to any court appearances.
His attorney also promised Merrill would return for court dates, but that did not happen. Instead, Merrill disappeared, forfeiting his bond. McClain’s office subsequently issued a $500,000 warrant for his arrest.
While Merrill was on the loose, Pacific County sheriff’s deputies established his involvement in an Ocean Park burglary, and the later sale of guns from that burglary. That lead to additional charges for Merrill, as well as a new $1 million arrest warrant.
McClain praised PCSO Detective Ryan Tully for his diligence, saying Tully “continued to work every lead to its conclusion and fed the information to the marshals in order to locate Mr. Merrill.”
Merrill will face an additional charge of bail-jumping. McClain said more charges could follow for individuals who assisted Merrill with his alleged escape to Cabo.
Merrill remains in Pacific County Jail on $1.5 million bail. He will next appear in court on Monday, Oct. 23, at 4 p.m.
This is a developing story. It will be updated as more details emerge.