John McAfee, the mercurial antivirus software entrepreneur who had several legal problems with US authorities, passed away at 75 in a Spanish jail. He was awaiting extradition to the United States after a tax evasion charge in 2020.
McAfee was found dead in his jail cell in a Barcelona prison yesterday at 1 pm. The cause of death was initially said to be suicide but is under investigation.
The Catalonia regional government Justice Department said that medical personnel attempted to resuscitate him but were not successful. The statement said that it appeared that McAfee died of suicide.
Death Came Right After US Extradition Approval
McAfee’s death came just days after a three-judge panel at the Spanish National Court stated that he could be extradited to the US to face federal tax evasion charges. The decision could have gone to appeal before a bigger judicial panel in the same court.
McAfee was placed under arrest in Spain last year after being indicted in the US for tax evasion in early 2020. It was alleged by the federal government that he did not file his federal tax returns for four years even though he earned millions of dollars from his various ventures from 2014 to 2018.
He earned money on some of the work included promoting several cryptocurrencies, consulting work, speaking at conferences, and selling the rights to tell his life story for a TV documentary.
The judges in Spain said that he could be extradited to the US to face the federal tax evasion charges for 2016, 2017, and 2018.
In a Spanish court hearing earlier in June, McAfee stated that the tax evasion charges in the US had a political motivation.
McAfee Also Was Indicted On Fraud And Money Laundering Charges
McAfee, who founded the famous anti-virus software company, allegedly was involved in a scheme that earned $13 million by promoting phony cryptocurrencies to investors.
It is estimated that McAfee was worth more than $100 million before the value of his various investments dropped during the 2008 market crash.
After he sold his anti-virus firm, McAfee retired to Belize and said he had discovered a US government plot to kill him. He took off to Guatemala in 2012 after he was suspected of murdering his neighbor.
McAfee went back to the US after a legal battle with the US government and resided in Tennessee until 2019 when he said he was running from the US government. McAfee argued that federal taxes were illegal and that he hadn’t paid any in eight years.
In his last tweet, McAfee said that power is given and not taken in a democracy, noting that citizens should take care of which powers they give the government.
McAfee’s Attorney – ‘Will Always Be Remembered As A Fighter’
Nishay Sanan, an attorney in Chicago who defended him on his tax evasion charges, said that McAfee would always be remembered by the world as a fighter. Sanan noted that his client tried to love the US, but the government ‘made his existence impossible.’
The attorney said that authorities in Spain have not given him a legal cause of death, and he is asking if there is video footage available in the prison or McAfee’s cell.
Tennessee prosecutors allege that McAfee owed the US government at least $4 million in taxes before fines or interest for five fiscal years.
McAfee was born in the United Kingdom in 1945, and he started McAfee Associates in 1988 and led an extraordinary, eccentric life after he sold his part of the antivirus software firm in the early 1990s.
McAfee ran for president twice and was involved in the Libertarian Party presidential debates in 2016. He also was involved in the manufacture of herbal medications, practiced yoga, and owned ultralight aircraft.
He was wanted in 2012 for questioning related to the death of a neighbor in Belize who was shot to death.
McAfee told the Associated Press at the time that he was being mistreated by the Belizean government. But the police denied that saying they were investigating a murder, and McAfee may have had information about it.
The prime minister of Belize said in 2012 that he wasn’t sure of McAfee’s mental state, noting that he seemed to be paranoid.
In 2019, a court in Florida ordered him to pay $25 million to the murdered man’s estate in a wrongful death lawsuit.
In July 2019, he was released from jail in the Dominican Republic after he and five other men were suspected of using a yacht carrying illegal weapons.
McAfee told a technology magazine that his father was an alcoholic and killed himself when he was 15.
He recently reported that his experience in a Spanish prison was ‘fascinating’ and that he had no plans to go back to the United States.