FRIENDSWOOD, Texas (AP) _ Steven Hadley ditched his wife and job in Iowa five years ago and started a secret life here with a new wife, but he attracted police curiosity when he paid cash for a house and expensive cars.

Police Lt. Gary Edwards finally unraveled the mystery surrounding Hadley after seeing his picture on an FBI flier issued in connection with the television series ''Unsolved Mysteries.''

Authorities said Hadley, 40, was arrested Monday and accused of embezzling $1.1 million from the John Deere Employees Credit Union in Waterloo, Iowa, where he had worked for 10 years and was described as a reliable and respected employee.

U.S. Magistrate George Kelt today ordered Hadley held without bond at least until a detention hearing, which was scheduled for Friday afternoon, FBI spokesman Johnie Joyce said.

''Hadley admitted his identity following his arrest,'' said Nicholas V. O'Hara, FBI special agent in charge of the district office at Omaha, Neb.

FBI agents and police called Hadley and asked him to come to the police station to discuss a neighborhood juvenile case that Hadley and his new wife had reported.

''I showed him the flier and asked him if he was Hadley and he answered, 'Yes, I am,''' Edwards said. ''There was a big sigh of relief and then he said, 'I'll cooperate fully however I can.'''

Hadley was reported missing by his wife and family in July 1983, the same time the money disappeared from the credit union.

Authorities believe Hadley took a July 21 flight to Chicago, but were unable to track him. He called home to alert his wife to a letter he left behind saying he took the money and fled because he ''could no longer cope with home and work pressures.''

In part of the letter included in federal court documents, Hadley wrote to his wife that, ''This is a very difficult letter to write but I couldn't let you find out from someone else first. If I call you to read this letter, it means that I have successfully left the state with around $1 million from the credit union.''

In Iowa, his wife, Kathryn, has divorced him and retained custody of their three children - who were 11, 7 and a year old when their father disappeared.

For the past three years, Edwards and others at the Friendswood Police Department have been researching Hadley after he bought a home and two expensive sports cars in cash, but had no visible means of support.

Edwards said Hadley had been in Friendswood, south of Houston, since 1984 when he bought his house, a Ferrari and an Alfa Romeo.

''We did a reverse investigation,'' Edwards said. ''We researched how he came into a lot of money. When he bought his house and fancy cars in cash, people were suspicious.''

''There was no doubt in my mind it was him when I saw the flier,'' he said. ''I was shocked. I probably have 600 pages of reports on this guy from the last three years and he looks the same.''

Hadley has since remarried and Edwards says the new wife had no idea of Hadley's real identity.

He is being held pending an appearance before a U.S. magistrate.

Hopes of catching Hadley rose in February when producers of the NBC-TV's ''Unsolved Mysteries'' arrived in Waterloo to prepare for a segment on the missing cash and credit union employee.

The Hadley segment was scheduled to be broadcast next month.

During the show, viewers are provided with a telephone number to call if they can identify a photo of the subject.