A man who claims marshals arrested the wrong man will still be held without bail, a judge ruled Thursday, deciding he is in fact the fugitive arrested in San Diego last month on allegations of sexually assaulting children decades ago in another state.
U.S. marshals arrested Frank Selas, 76, at his home on Casa Verde Court in Bonita on Jan. 25. Selas has pleaded not guilty to a fugitive charge and is fighting extradition.
In a San Diego courtroom Thursday a judge agreed that prosecutors and marshals had the same individual wanted on a decades-old allegation from Louisiana.
Marshals say they positively identified the defendant based on his physical appearance, his date of birth and his Social Security number.
Also, Selas allegedly told marshals that he was aware of the outstanding arrest warrants, according to Deputy District Attorney Richard Madruga.
The arrest warrant stems from the late 1970s, when Selas was accused of abusing children during a camping trip near Valentine Lake at Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana. At the time, Selas hosted the "Mr. Wonder" show on KNOE-TV in north Louisiana.
Louisiana law enforcement officials obtained a warrant for Selas' arrest in relation to two counts of obscene behavior with a juvenile.
When officials went to his home, his wife told them her husband had fled in the family car. In the coming days, officials would find Selas' car in Dallas. Selas, then 39, allegedly fled the country and flew from Dallas to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, before investigators could arrest him.
When Selas returned to the U.S., investigators say he changed his last name and Social Security number.
Defense attorney Marc Carlos admitted there was some similarity between his client and the photographs of "Mr. Wonder" but he argued at a hearing Thursday that there is no fingerprint evidence. He also disputes that his client changed the spelling of his last name to avoid detection.
“Szelas is, in fact, his family name, his father’s name and has always been his family name,” Carlos told the court.
The judge ruled prosecutors and marshals have proven Selas is the man wanted in Louisiana. Now, prosecutors say they will await a governor's warrant to proceed with extradition.
Investigators say Selas spent the last three decades living in San Diego and volunteering with community organizations including the Cub Scouts and the American Red Cross.
NBC 7 Investigates is looking into connections between Selas and community groups in our region. If you have information, please contact our hotline at (619) 578-0393 or email NBC7Investigates@nbcuni.com.