Prosecutor insists yoga business founder is a risk to flee

Aug 31, 2022, 4:47 PM | Updated: 4:59 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — A prosecutor argued Wednesday that an international yoga business founder arrested on tax charges has a history of arrests, and is a flight risk and danger to prospective witnesses in the case against him, but a judge disagreed with a request to confine the man to his Washington home.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer E. Willis set bail for Gregory Gumucio at $250,000 and banned him from associating with those he once employed at “Yoga to the People.”

The business had operated about 20 locations in the United States, including in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland, California; Tempe, Arizona; Orlando, Florida; and cities in Colorado and Washington. It also had operated in Spain and Israel and was seeking to expand to other countries when it closed two years ago.

Gumucio was arrested last week on charges alleging that he failed to pay taxes for over a decade while running an international yoga company that generated over $20 million in revenue.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael D. Neff sought to boost bail conditions initially set in Washington when Gumucio was arrested last week, along with two others, including his romantic partner.

Neff wanted Gumucio to be subjected to home incarceration and location monitoring, and he requested a $1 million bail, saying evidence was overwhelming and Gumucio was eventually likely to spend years in prison.

He said Gumucio, 61, of Cathlamet, Washington, has been arrested 15 times and had in the past used at least six aliases, three Social Security numbers and given three places of birth. And Neff said Gumucio has been arrested three times on accusations of flight or escape, though he didn’t say if any of the arrests resulted in convictions.

He also said that his mentor was a fugitive living in Mexico and that he also associated with a former member of organized crime who used to lurk around his business. And he said two former business associates had described menacing encounters with him that left them fearful after they quit his company.

In refusing some of the prosecutor’s requests, the judge noted that Gumucio’s last arrest prior to the new charges was in 1992, though she also said the bail conditions needed to be stricter than those imposed in Washington.

She ordered Gumucio to stay 60 miles (97 kilometers) away from the Canadian border and to also stay away from any airports.

Defense lawyer Marne Lenox had requested a $100,000 bail, rejecting the prosecutor’s claims that Gumucio has extensive ties abroad and generally portraying Neff’s claims as overblown.

Neff had asked that Gumucio be banned from having any firearms or explosives. “That is, quite frankly, overkill,” Lenox said.

She said he was a family man who was closely involved with his three children.

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Prosecutor insists yoga business founder is a risk to flee