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Frankel May Fight Extradition

September 7, 1999

HAMBURG, Germany (AP) _ He surrounded himself with women and an opulent Connecticut mansion, and created as many as six or more different identities for himself. Now, alleged con artist Martin Frankel finds himself utterly alone, fearful of those who may be seeking revenge.

Frankel’s German attorney said the man who eluded authorities for four months is nervous and depressed, worried about unspecified groups or people who may be after him because of the millions he allegedly bilked from investors and donors.

``He thinks about what happened, about his past,″ said Thomas Piplak, the Hamburg attorney representing Frankel. ``He is frightened, uncomfortable.″

The overarching emotion that Frankel feels right now is fear, Piplak said. Although Frankel hasn’t been specific, Piplak said he has reason to believe stories of possible danger in the United States.

``He fears being attacked because he knows a lot of things,″ his lawyer said.

The reason the alleged rogue financier was in Germany is unclear, but Piplak said he wanted to come to Europe. He is confused by being subjected to a legal system to which he’s not accustomed, but the attorney said Frankel may still prolong his stay in Germany by fighting extradition.

``He’s not afraid to go back to the United States. He’s afraid he won’t be secure,″ Piplak said.

Frankel, 44, was arrested Saturday night in Hamburg’s Hotel Prem, ending a four-month international manhunt. Police say he siphoned at least $218 million from several insurance companies; a lawsuit by some of them puts the loss at $915 million.

As much as $1.98 billion may also be missing from the St. Francis of Assisi Foundation, which investigators say was established by Frankel in the British Virgin Islands.

When police used a spare key to open his hotel room door on Saturday, they say they found him with an unspecified sum of cash, diamonds, a computer and numerous fake passports.

``He was surprised by being arrested. He didn’t expect it,″ Piplak said.

Prosecutors have not yet received extradition papers from the United States, and Frankel is being held on a German charge of possessing a fake British passport.

Hamburg’s Holstenglacis prison, where Frankel can expect to pass the months before his extradition case is decided, has a reputation as a tough place filled with drug suspects awaiting trial.

For now, he wears his own clothes _ a blue shirt and khaki pants _ and has requested kosher meals for religious reasons.

Unshaven and appearing morose during the hour-long meeting with his lawyer, Frankel didn’t elaborate on who he thinks might be pursuing him.

Piplak said he suggested Frankel write out the reasons for his fears for a judge.

But the lawyer said Frankel _ who has been described by other acquaintances as a pathological liar _ is worried people won’t take his story seriously.

``He’s doubtful whether anybody will believe him,″ Piplak said.

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