Spitzauer has long legal history

By Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldMarch 8, 2014 

Michael Spitzauer is in a federal jail for the second time since arriving in the U.S. almost 19 years ago.

He came to Seattle on a 90-day visa shortly after serving three years in an Austrian prison for fraud -- a fact he lied about on his immigration form.

Thousands of pages of public documents in more than 50 court cases involving Spitzauer in Washington reveal little about his life in Austria and his trouble there.

But records show it didn't take long for new allegations of fraud and misconduct to surface -- including claims that Spitzauer stuck his best man and others with the tab for his expensive wedding and Hawaiian honeymoon.

And soon the Austrian government was trying to extradite Spitzauer back home.

He'd been in the U.S. less than a year when a Seattle couple sued him, claiming he misused their line of credit at Seattle First National Bank. They accused him of taking $58,000 from an account they'd allowed him to have access to.

The lawsuit was later dismissed because the bank decided not to pursue the case.

Just before Spitzauer's 90-day visa was to expire in 1995, he married his wife, Melissa. They'd met when she was working as a cocktail waitress in Seattle and he was staying at a downtown hotel.

The Austrian government asked the U.S. to extradite Spitzauer in 1997 so he could be tried for allegedly defrauding some of his Austrian friends of more than $720,000 for the wedding and an alleged Nigerian oil scheme, according to a Seattle Times story at the time.

Austrian officials alleged some of the money was used to pay back victims of an earlier fraud that led to his conviction and prison term in Austria.

U.S. federal prison records show Spitzauer spent almost two years at the federal detention center in SeaTac while he fought the extradition.

At the same time he served a six-month sentence for lying on his immigration form by failing to declare his criminal history on his visa application.

He was released from custody in September 1999.

Spitzauer lost two appeals trying to overturn his conviction and the extradition, but in 2001 Austria dropped the extradition effort, allowing Spitzauer to stay in U.S.

Although he'd already spent five years of his life in prison, Spitzauer formed a biofuels company called Green Power in 2000 and was recruiting investors to build a multimillion-dollar plant in Fife.

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