American software pioneer John McAfee, 75, was found dead on Wednesday in a prison cell in Barcelona, Spain, according to McAfee’s lawyer, Nishay Sanan.
“I am saddened to hear of the events and my prayers go out to his wife Janice,” Sanan said in a statement. “John was and will always be remembered as a fighter. He tried to love this country but the U.S. Government made his existence impossible. They tried to erase him but they failed.”
Just hours earlier, a court in Spain had approved the extradition of McAfee to the U.S., where he was set to stand trial on federal tax-evasion charges.
An eccentric millionaire known widely for his eponymous antivirus software, McAfee was arrested in October 2020 for failing to file tax returns from 2014 to 2018 in Tennessee.
McAfee had bragged about not paying taxes the previous year in a tweet.
I have not filed a tax return for 8 years. Why? 1: taxation is illegal. 2: I paid tens of millions already and received Jack Shit in services. 3. I’m done making money. I live off of cash from McAfee Inc. My net income is negative. But i am a prime target for the IRS. Here I am.
— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) January 3, 2019
In a separate investigation, the Securities and Exchange Commission sued McAfee for a “pump and dump scheme” in which he allegedly made $23 million in undisclosed compensation by recommending cryptocurrencies on his Twitter page.
“McAfee’s recommendations were materially false and misleading,” according to the SEC’s suit, also from October 2020.
Federal authorities additionally filed a civil case against McAfee for the same actions.
Sanan, his lawyer, told NPR he intended to fight all the charges.
It was not McAfee’s first brush with the law. In 2012, he was arrested in Guatemala, where he was charged with entering the country illegally. He was seeking political asylum there after he had been on a highly publicized flight from his home in Belize after the murder of his neighbor. Investigators said McAfee was “a person of interest” in the murder.
McAfee’s Belize home was known as a party house, with many women living there, in addition to seven large dogs. His onetime neighbor, Gregory Faull, reportedly complained about McAfee’s dogs. One day, McAfee discovered that his dogs had been poisoned. Shortly after, Faull was found dead.
“John definitely did not have anything to do with that,” McAfee’s spokesman, Brian Fitzgerald, told NPR in 2012.
McAfee liked to brag about outwitting authorities. He once boasted about eluding police by dressing as a German tourist in a Speedo and another time as an angry homeless man.
In 2015, McAfee announced a third-party White House bid with his own party: the Cyber Party.
CeCe Craig, McAfee’s former house manager in Woodland Park, Colo., lived on McAfee’s property for years in the early 2000s.
“I got the best of John McAfee. He was really into his yoga retreats. He loved playing the grand piano. We hiked around a lot on his land,” she told NPR. “I learned a lot from him. When I lived with him, he was adamantly against drugs and alcohol to focus on his yoga,” she said.
“He was a nerd. That’s how I always saw him.”
NPR’s Carrie Kahn contributed reporting.