John McAfee, Anti-Virus Software Pioneer, Found Dead In Spanish Prison Cell

John McAfee, founder and former chief executive of the antivirus software company McAfee Corporation MCFE, was found dead in his Spanish prison cell Wednesday, several hours after a court cleared his extradition to the U.S. to face federal charges.

He was 75 years old, and Spanish investigators told the local media his death was a suicide by hanging.

What Happened: In March, the Justice Department announced that McAfee was indicted on conspiracy to commit commodities and securities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities and touting fraud, wire fraud conspiracy and substantive wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy offenses related to two schemes involving the fraudulent promotion of cryptocurrencies that robbed investors of $13 million between 2017 and 2018.

McAfee, who resigned from the leadership of his eponymous company in 1994, has been held in Spain since October 2020 on tax evasion charges. McAfee sought to avoid extradition by arguing the indictment was politically motivated because of his failed attempt to secure the Libertarian Party nomination for president in the 2020 presidential election, but Spain’s National High Court rejected his plea.

A Life Gone Awry: McAfee was born Sept. 18, 1945, at a U.S. Army base in Gloucestershire, England, the son of an American soldier and a British mother. He was raised in Salem, Virginia and earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics in 1967 from Virginia’s Roanoke College.

McAfee entered the tech world as programmer in NASA's Institute for Space Studies. During the 1970s and 1980s, he worked at several major technology firms including Xerox XRX and Lockheed Martin LMT. While employed at the latter, he began developing anti-virus software to mitigate the potential damage of the Brain computer virus.

McAfee founded his company in 1987 but left in 1994. In 2013, he created a viral video titled “How to Uninstall McAfee Antivirus” that showed him badmouthing the company while in the company of barely dressed women and piles of white powder that he snorted during his diatribe.

McAfee was involved in various endeavors, including the Tribal Voice instant messaging program and an herbal antibiotics firm out of Belize, before becoming chairman and CEO of MGT Capital in 2016. McAfee realigned the company’s focus from gaming to cybersecurity and cryptocurrency. He left the company within two years to become chief executive of the cryptocurrency firm Luxcore.

McAfee left the U.S. in January 2019 in the wake of tax evasion charges. He moved through the Caribbean and Europe before being detained in Barcelona.

While in prison, McAfee maintained a Twitter TWTR account. The pinned tweet for the account dates from June 16 and appeared to suggest the lament of a man at the end of his road: “The US believes I have hidden crypto. I wish I did but it has dissolved through the many hands of Team McAfee (your belief is not required), and my remaining assets are all seized. My friends evaporated through fear of association. I have nothing. Yet, I regret nothing.”

Photo: John McAfee speaking at the 2016 Politicon event in Pasadena, California. Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr Creative. Commons.)

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