Fugitive Politician Waives Hearing; Will Be Returned To New Jersey
NEW YORK (AP) _ A former New Jersey state senator who faked his death and spent two years as a fugitive agreed Monday to return to New Jersey, where he faces jail time for a fraud conviction and additional fraud charges.
David J. Friedland, 50, was taken before a federal magistrate and signed a waiver of a removal hearing, allowing his return to New Jersey on Tuesday.
He was taken into custody by federal marshals last week in the Indian Ocean nation of the Maldive Islands, where he operated a successful chain of scuba diving shops. He was formally arrested Sunday when he arrived at Kennedy Airport.
Federal authorities said that during his two years on the lam, he also traveled with phony passports throughout Europe, Kenya, Hong Kong and Singapore.
When he was led, handcuffed, out of the courtroom of U.S. Magistrate Allyne Ross, Friedland smiled at his daughter, Karen, and said, ″See you soon.″
His court-appointed lawyer, Kevin Doyle, told reporters later that Friedland willingly chose to end his time as a fugitive.
″I believe what will come out of this is that he could have gotten away,″ Doyle said. ″Rather than running when the local authorities were making inquiries, he chose to come here.″
Doyle said Friedland was notified ″days in advance″ that his arrest was imminent and that he had been questioned by authorities of the Maldives, a nation of atolls southwest of Sri Lanka.
Maldive authorities grew suspicious of Friedland, found that his passport was phony and traced his identity through an international police network, officials said.
Friedland faced a seven-year sentence on a 1980 conviction of taking kickbacks for arranging a loan from a Teamsters union pension fund.
After his conviction, the former senator stayed out of jail by agreeing to cooperate with federal authorities investigating political corruption.
But then Friedland was told he faced indictment for a second scheme involving the same pension fund, allegedly carried out while he was cooperating with prosecutors.
Friedland was indicted in September 1985 on charges of masterminding a $20 million bilking of New Brunswick, N.J.-based Teamsters Local 701. Besides the seven-year sentence he already faces, Friedland could be sentenced to 150 years in prison if convicted of the 1985 charge. Additional charges of bail jumping also are likely to be filed against him, authorities said.
He disappeared on Labor Day 1985 by staging a scuba diving accident in the Bahamas.
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Chertoff of Newark said Monday that federal authorities knew about two months after his staged death that Friedland was alive.
He said Friedland had left a message on the answering machine of his attorney, and the attorney then notified authorities.
Asked how Friedland financed his travels, Chertoff said, ″probably Teamsters money.″
He said Friedland used at least two phony passports - a Greek passport with the name Ionnis Stogias and a Costa Rican passport under the name of Richard Smith Harley, his alias on the Maldive Islands.
Friedland served in the New Jersey Assembly from 1966 to 1974 and in the Senate from 1978 until his conviction in 1980.