John McAfee, the antivirus software entrepreneur who faced extradition from Spain to the U.S. on tax-related criminal charges, was found dead, according to local reports.
According to the Spanish outlet El Mundo, attempts were made to resuscitate McAfee, who was arrested at an airport in Barcelona last October.
A government official told The Associated Press McAfee had been found dead inside his cell. Authorities said the cause of death was being investigated.
Earlier in the day, Spain’s National Court approved the extradition of McAfee to the U.S., where he was wanted on tax-related criminal charges that carry a prison sentence of up to 30 years.
Tennessee prosecutors charged 75-year-old McAfee with evading taxes after failing to report income made from promoting cryptocurrencies while he did consultancy work, as well as income from speaking engagements and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary.
The charges refer to the three fiscal years from 2016 to 2018, according to the Spanish court’s ruling on Wednesday.
McAfee’s attorney Andrew Gordon confirmed Spanish authorities had notified him McAfee had passed away, he said in a statement to USA TODAY.
“We have no comment on the cause of death,” Gording said. “We were actively working on Mr. McAfee’s case and were preparing to fight for his innocence before the United States courts. John was eager to share his side of the story.”
McAfee, a former programmer at NASA in the late 1960s, made his name and fortune by building a cybersecurity empire at then-McAfee Associates only to resign in 1994. In 2010, tech giant Intel acquired McAfee in a deal worth $7.68 billion.
But McAfee’s fortune dwindled from a reported peak of $100 million to $4 million, because of the global financial crisis and recession, The New York Times reported.
By early 2010, McAfee was in the antibiotics business in Belize with a venture called QuorumEx. But in later years, his renegade life rose to the forefront.
In 2012, he was named by Belize authorities as a “‘person of interest” in the murder of his neighbor. Showtime aired the documentary “Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee” in 2016 about his time in the Central American country.
A description of the documentary describes how McAfee “goes off the grid to live in Belize, building a compound and harem, becoming a drug lord and developing an armed security force to guard himself against the police until he is a suspect in his neighbor’s murder and must make a great escape.”
McAfee kept a cache of 10 guns with him in 2013 when McAfee invited a USA TODAY reporter to meet him where he was hiding out at a farmhouse in Tennessee’s Blue Ridge Mountains. A $2 million contract on his life had dropped to $650,000, he said.
To escape a Belize prison, he told how he “lied, faked a heart attack, put on disguises (as a construction worker) — to get home.”
Another film about McAfee’s life, “King of the Jungle,” had been in the works with Zac Efron reportedly starring, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
During a 2015 interview with USA TODAY, McAfee said he had spent much of the previous year escaping assassins he claimed were sent from Belize. He had since been living with his wife, Janice, in Lexington, Tennessee.
“This is a new phase in my life – getting back to building things,” McAfee said.
Jon Swartz, Mike Snider and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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