Kevin Barry Artt

Artt's still where he was when we profiled him in October 1996: living in San Francisco on bail and awaiting extradition to Northern Ireland. A darling of the Orange County Irish-American community, Artt's a convicted IRA murderer who in 1983 busted out of Northern Ireland's infamous Maze prison in a massive breakout involving 38 inmates.

Artt is a colorful figure who may have been wrongly convicted. After fleeing to the U.S., he frequently visited Orange County while raising a family in San Diego in the years leading to his 1992 arrest. His extradition appeal is one of the longest-pending decisions in the history of the 9th Circuit Court.

On June 15, Artt tested positive for cocaine use for the fourth time in a year—a serious breach of his bail that should have landed him back in jail but didn't: the judge took pity on him for getting jerked around by two governments.

There's irony in all this. As pointed out in the Aug. 1 edition of The Recorder, had he actually been extradited three years ago when first ordered, he would be now be free: as part of the Northern Ireland peace process, the British government pardoned all Maze prisoners last year.


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