Fugitive Real Estate Heir Robert Durst Pleads Guilty to Gun Charge, Setting Up Extradition to L.A.

Fugitive Heir
AP

A fugitive New York real estate heir has pleaded guilty in Louisiana to a weapons charge and has agreed to a sentence of seven years and one month imprisonment.

The maximum penalty that Robert Durst could have faced was 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt said Wednesday that he would "provisionally" accept the plea and would make a final decision after he receives a pre-sentencing report.

The acceptance of the deal is another step toward Durst's extradition to California, where he is wanted on a murder charge. Durst has waived extradition but won't immediately be sent to California until at least the sentencing.

The charge has kept him in Louisiana even though he waived extradition to California to face a charge that he killed a friend and onetime spokeswoman in 2000.

"It's our purpose ... to 'clear the decks' of anything and everything that would delay Bob's transfer to California so we can start preparing for trial in the Susan Berman case," attorney Richard DeGuerin wrote in an email Tuesday. "Bob Durst didn't kill Susan Berman and doesn't know who did, and he's eager to go to trial and prove it."

Previous filings show Durst, 72, had made a plea agreement with federal prosecutors in Louisiana. In December, his attorneys and Los Angeles prosecutors signed an agreement that he would be extradited by Aug. 18.

DeGuerin said Durst's sentencing will be six to eight weeks later. The Bureau of Prisons must then decide where he will serve the sentence, and he will have to be transported to that prison.

"All that will take time," he wrote.

DeGuerin said the attorneys are asking for Durst to be assigned to a prison in Southern California to make it easier for him to appear in court in Los Angeles.

An estranged member of the wealthy New York real estate family that runs 1 World Trade Center, he's accused of killing Berman to keep her from talking to New York prosecutors about the disappearance of Durst's first wife, Kathleen, in 1982.

FBI agents tracked him to a New Orleans hotel on the eve of the finale of "The Jinx," HBO's six-part documentary about Durst, his wife's disappearance, Berman's death and the death and dismemberment of Durst's neighbor Morris Black in 2001. He was formally arrested early on the day of the broadcast.

Prosecutors have filed a statement that Durst should forfeit the revolver.

The statement doesn't list anything else, including $117,000 in $100 bills that was sent to the hotel for Everette Ward — the name under which Durst had registered — and arrived after his arrest.

Also not listed were other items found in his hotel room, including items prosecutors have said showed he was planning to flee to Cuba, such as a head-and-chest flesh-toned latex mask with salt-and-pepper hair, an apparently fake Texas ID, and a map folded to show Louisiana and Cuba.

DeGuerin wouldn't say whether Durst will get back the cash and everything found in his hotel room.

"I'm not going to discuss the details of the agreement until after it's put into place," he wrote. 

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