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Judge frees wife of TelexFree owner accused of fraud

A federal judge in Worcester on Friday released Katia Wanzeler, wife of the TelexFree Inc. owner who fled to Brazil, according to two people briefed on the matter.

The hearing was closed and the record was sealed, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the grand jury proceeding is ongoing and is secret.

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Wanzeler, the wife of Carlos Wanzeler, is required to stay in Massachusetts and her passports were taken, according to one of the people briefed on the matter.

Katia Wanzeler was arrested earlier this month at JFK international Airport as she tried to board a flight for Brazil. She was being held on a material witness warrant but has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

TelexFree, based in Marlborough, and its principals, have been charged with fraud for allegedly running a billion-dollar global pyramid scheme. Co-owner James Merrill is being held pending trial. Carlos Wanzeler fled the country in April and is believed to be in his native Brazil, according to authorities.

Under Brazil’s constitution, the country is not required to turn over citizens accused of wrongdoing to the United States.

In a statement, US Marshals confirmed “that Katia Wanzeler was in U.S. Marshals custody from May 15-23. The Marshals Service does not disclose information related to individual prisoners, including details about prisoner transportation, for security purposes.”

Paul Kelly, an attorney representing the Wanzelers, said in a statement that he could not discuss the case.

“I am unable to comment as this involves a sealed grand jury matter, other than to say, as has already been publicly reported, that Ms. Wanzeler is involved in this proceeding as a witness and not a defendant.”

Beth Healy can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @HealyBeth.
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