Martin Frankel, the Connecticut money manager who allegedly looted $350 million in an elaborate insurance scam, will fight U.S. efforts to extradite him from Germany, his lawyer said yesterday.
The decision dashes hopes that Frankel will return to the U.S. within the next few weeks and it promises to prolong one of the oddest financial scandals in years. Authorities contend that Frankel is a master con artist who bought a handful of ailing insurer companies, bilked them of millions and spent a small fortune to support a Greenwhich mansion and a rotating coterie of young women he recruited through personal ads.
Thomas Piplak, Frankel's attorney, did not offer any arguments about why Frankel should be allowed to stay in Germany, where he is being held for carrying a fake British passport. Under German law, Piplak said, Frankel is granted one opportunity to formally announce whether he will oppose his extradition and can't later change his mind.
"It's not necessary at this point to give details or reasons why," Piplak said. "We're essentially preserving our rights."
Experts said that Frankel's decision to fight extradition complicates the work of U.S. prosecutors, who will now be forced to specify the charges against Frankel, not a simple feat in a case as complicated as his. "You can only try people on the charges that you extradite them on," said Larry Barcella, a Washington attorney. "Prosecutors are going to have to scramble like hell."
Frankel has been held in a Hamburg jail cell since shortly after his capture on Saturday night at a luxury waterfront hotel. The 44-year old fugitive had fled the U.S. in May with a few million in diamonds and an as yet undetermined amount of cash.
A notoriously fussy eater with a serious germ phobia, Frankel's adjustment to life behind bars is apparently not going smoothly. Piplak said that his client has requested kosher meals, though German officials have yet to find a cook and the proper ingredients to honor that request.