• U.S.

Nation: Sindona Returns

2 minute read
Michele Sindona

Was he doublecrossed?

He was last seen on Aug. 2, walking on New York City’s Fifth Avenue near his $500,000 apartment in the exclusive Pierre Hotel. Over the next ten weeks, his relatives and lawyers reported receiving letters—and even a photograph—that supposedly proved that he had been abducted by Italian leftist radicals. But police in the U.S. and Italy suspected that the missing man, Sicilian-born Financier Michele Sindona, 59, had arranged his own disappearance to avoid standing trial in New York on a 99-count indictment for bank fraud and in Milan on charges of swindling two banks of $225 million.

Last week Sindona mysteriously reappeared in a public telephone booth at 10th Avenue and 42nd Street, just west of New York’s sleazy Times Square.

Looking wan and haggard, he had a gash in his leg that he said was a bullet wound, and was dressed in the same gray business suit that he had been wearing on Aug. 2. Because Sindona was nearly incoherent from exhaustion, his physician immediately put him under sedation and whisked him to a $300-a-day room in fashionable Doctors Hospital.

FBI agents were allowed to question Sindona for only an hour a day because of his weakened condition, and they learned little about where he had been.

According to relatives and physicians.

Sindona maintains that he was abducted by Italian terrorists who wanted information from him about crimes committed by top Italian politicians, and that he was wounded when he tried to escape. Says his psychiatrist, Dr. George Serban: “If this gentleman was not kidnaped, he should get an Oscar for acting.”

Law enforcement officials, however, give Sindona less enthusiastic reviews.

They are investigating reports that Sindona arranged for his own kidnaping by young immigrants connected with gangsters in Sicily, and then was double-crossed. In addition, the investigators are looking into reports that the mobsters held him somewhere in eastern Long Island and released him only after members of his family paid them an undisclosed bonus. The Sindona case is also being investigated in Italy, where police have arrested two brothers, Rosario and Vincenzo Spatola, both Sicilian contractors, for complicity in the financier’s disappearance.

In New York, meanwhile, Federal Judge Thomas Griesa ordered that Sindona be kept under guard, and set Nov. 26 for the start of his trial.

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