The man who founded a successful Milton Keynes company is today reliant upon his 84-year-old dad to help prevent him being banged up in an American jail for a ‘crime’ he insists he did not commit.
Paul Dunham and his wife Sandra both face being extradited to the States over an employment dispute that has turned into a Kafkaesque criminal nightmare.
If found guilty, they face jail sentences of hundreds of years.
Paul’s pensioner father Frederick Dunham, who lives in Blue Bridge, has already loaned the couple his £10,000 savings to pay legal costs.
Said Paul: “My dad is worried to death. He finds it all extremely upsetting and confusing. He wants to help but he feels helpless.”
Paul, 58, and Sandra, who is 57, were arrested for allegedly embezzling more than $1 million from the soldering solutions giants Pace Ltd in the United States. A Grand Jury in Maryland decided, without their knowledge, there was a case to answer.
Paul founded the UK arm of Pace in Blakelands near Newport Pagnell 27 years ago. After the business went from strength to strength, he was promoted to chief executive of the American company, which was run by the late Mr William Siegal.
He and his wife Sandra, who also worked for the company, left their Milton Keynes home and lived in the States for nine years.
They resigned and returned to England four years later after becoming embroiled in a dispute with Mr Seigal’s son Eric.
The allegedly embezzled money involved the Dunhams’ business expense claims over the nine years in the US – expenses the couple insist were genuine.
Said Paul: “The dispute is a civil matter but we are being treated like criminals. Under the Extradition Act, my wife and I face being locked up in separate American prisons until we can prove our innocence when the trial takes place in a few years’ time.”
The Dunhams, who have been married for 35 years, are now both unemployed and ill with stress.
This week they are busy preparing for a costly High Court appeal to fight their extradition.
“We are fighting for our lives,” added Paul. “We would rather die than rot in a US jail.”