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Frankel Tries To Flee German Prison

February 28, 2001

HAMBURG, Germany (AP) _ Former fugitive financier Martin Frankel tried to escape from the German prison where he is awaiting extradition to the United States, authorities said Wednesday.

Frankel tried to cut through the bars of his cell Tuesday evening with a piece of wire and the help of a fellow inmate, but police saw the attempt on a security camera and sounded the alarm. He was taken to another prison.

Frankel, 46, was arrested in Hamburg in 1999 and sentenced last summer to three years in prison for smuggling diamonds and holding fake passports. In the United States, he is accused of cheating three insurance companies out of about $200 million.

Authorities were making arrangements to extradite Frankel to Connecticut on Friday, television station WTNH in New Haven, Conn. reported Wednesday, citing law enforcement sources it did not identify.

Authorities in Germany have said he would likely be extradited by March, when he will have served half of his sentence and be eligible for parole under German law.

Prosecutor Peter Bunners said the escape attempt wouldn’t affect the extradition, and that German authorities had already discussed a date at the beginning of March with officials in the United States. However, he declined to give the specific date, citing security concerns.

German officials agreed in December to extradite the Toledo, Ohio native, who is accused of cheating insurance companies in Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Regulators in those states are seeking more than $600 million in damages from Frankel.

After an international manhunt, Frankel was found living in a Hamburg hotel under an assumed name in September 1999. He was carrying two British and seven Greek passports, as well as millions of dollars worth of diamonds that investigators say he smuggled into the country.

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