10/07/2014 12:44 EDT | Updated 12/07/2014 05:59 EST

Fugitive's return to justice won't change Manitoba family's tragedy

Winnipegger Larry Hochman said the return of a Manitoba man wanted for dangerous driving in a crash that killed his father and brother nearly four decades ago won't change much. 

"The good times, the camping, the family outings, the trips. You miss it. You miss not growing up with a dad and a brother," he said Tuesday. 

Robert James Fox, also known as Robert Fotti, 65, was escorted back to the Pembina, North Dakota border crossing on October 6. He was then turned over to Canadian officials, according to a release from the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).

“Identifying and removing foreign fugitives from the United States is an ICE priority,” said Steven P. Boll, field office director of ERO Houston. “The co-operation between the United States and Canadian governments resulted in this foreign fugitive being safely returned to his home country where he can face justice for his crime.”

On April 10, 1977 Robert Fotti ran a red light in Winnipeg. He collided with the motorcycle of 42-year-old Gordon Hochman and his 17-year-old son, Stewart, killing them both.

Larry and Hochman’s wife, Marlene, were on a motorcycle close behind and witnessed the aftermath of the crash.

​Fotti, who had an extensive record of traffic violations, was charged with dangerous driving, and in 1978, was found not guilty. The Crown appealed the decision and won. Fotti then took his case to the Supreme Court of Canada, which upheld the conviction.

In 1980, Fotti was sentenced to nine months in jail but never showed up to his hearing. It was 10 years before Fotti would surface again.

In 1990, CBC reporter Ross Rutherford confronted a man in a Texas parking lot. The man claimed he was Dr. Robert Fox, a salesman selling a machine he said could cure cancer, but records indicated the man was not who he claimed to be.

CBC used legal documents, handwriting analysis, hidden camera footage and a vehicle sales record to conclude Robert Fox was actually Robert Fotti.

"We don’t believe you’re Robert Fox. We believe you’re Robert Fotti from Winnipeg. Is that true?" Rutherford asked as he approached Fox.

"I have nothing to say at the moment," Fox answered, after considering the question for several seconds.
"I will have to consult with counsel on this," Fox added after more questions from Rutherford.

Court records would later confirm Robert Fotti had changed his name to Robert Fox in the Bahamas in 1980.

According to the ICE release, Fox illegally entered the United States sometime in 1984. 

On Dec. 20, 2012, ERO placed an immigration detainer with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) on Fox after he was sentenced to a year in state prison on another conviction.  

Fox was released into ICE custody from TDCJ July 10, 2013. On Jan. 29, 2014, a federal immigration judge in Houston ordered Fox to be deported to Canada.   

'It doesn't really matter any more'

"I can't say it's the justice system that found him down there," Larry Hochman said. "It was the CBC that found him down there."

He wonders why little was done to extradite Fotti over the years. 

"As far as we're concerned, they could've just picked him up at the border and said, 'Go. You're free.'"

Hochman said the few months Fotti will spend behind bars won't change anything.

"At this point in time we've all moved on. It doesn't really matter any more. After 37 years, what's it going to prove, now, other than the police got their man?"