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FBI officials arrest John Iannone, ending 3 1/2-year search

July 31, 1997

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ Ron Daurio never believed that a smooth-talking former oil executive suspected of fleecing investors out of $470,000 died in a blood-splattered van.

The Colorado dentist also never believed he would see his $86,500 investment again, but he got some satisfaction Wednesday when he learned that John Iannone had been arrested in a central Iowa hotel.

``He’s not a man. He isn’t human,″ Daurio said from his home in Pueblo, Colo., Wednesday night. ``I knew he had been around for some time. It was just a matter of time before he surfaced.″

Iannone, 52, calmly answered questions in federal court Wednesday and waived a hearing to establish his identity.

He was jailed without bond as he awaited transfer to Pennsylvania to be charged with interstate transportation of stolen property by fraud, mail and wire fraud.

Authorities would not say where Iannone was during 3 1/2 years on the lam following his bizarre disappearance.

His wife last saw him when he left home Jan. 11, 1994, presumably on a business trip to Houston.

Instead, he faked his own shooting death to get away from investors whom he allegedly bilked of at least $470,000, investigators said. His van was found at the Pittsburgh airport, splattered with blood and littered with shell casings.

A tip brought FBI agents to a hotel near Des Moines Tuesday, where Iannone had registered a few hours earlier under his real name. He was arrested without incident.

His life on the run revealed glimpses of his adroitness at spinning tales.

A day after he left home in 1994, his wife, Donna, received an overnight package of audio cassettes on which he claimed to be on a secret government mission for the ``alphabet agencies.″ If she received the package before hearing from him, he was dead, the tapes said.

Before Iannone disappeared, he lived in a luxury home outside Pittsburgh and collected antique guns, knives and books. But his 1992 income was $522, and he showed more than $71,500 in business losses, court documents showed.

Though he was never in the military, he told people he won a Medal of Honor for service in the Vietnam War, and his name was put on a plaque honoring Vietnam veterans.

After his job as a gas price analyst was terminated in 1990, he started a one-man company, Horizon Natural Resources, and persuaded investors to put a fortune in oil and gas ventures.

He never drilled wells in Nebraska that seven investors funded. Instead, he used the money for business and personal expenses, the indictment said.

After he vanished, Mrs. Iannone declared bankruptcy. His truck, car and gun collection were sold for $8,225 and the couple’s home was sold for $383,000. Proceeds went toward paying the $950,000 creditors said he owed.

It was after Daurio’s lawyer began questioning the validity of the investments that Iannone vanished.

``I knew that I had lost a lot of money,″ Daurio said. ``He’s a smoothie. He just talked the talk. I didn’t know the first thing about what I was investing in.″

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