Take the Hedge-Fund Money and Run

By Robert Kolker
New York Magazine
October 30, 2006

What obsessed Angelo Haligiannis was the bracelet. Every white-collar criminal hates the bracelet. At home with nothing to do, they can’t stop looking at it, fussing with it, trying to wish it away. It was the same piece of ankle jewelry that Martha Stewart wore, the same one she’d joked about having learned how to disable on the Internet. For the fourteen months that Angelo had been under house arrest at his parents’ place in Manhasset—grounded, essentially, at Mom and Dad’s, while he awaited sentencing—the electronic monitoring device had emitted a tiny radio signal to record every time he came within 150 feet of a receiver the government had put in the house. Twice a day, as a condition of his bail, Angelo was required to check in by phone with the federal court’s Pretrial Services division. To make sure he wasn’t really calling from, say, the French Riviera, the Pretrial Services officer would check the bracelet. If the signal was received, all was well; if not, a set of protocols kicked in, starting with calls to friends and relatives and culminating with alerting airports and enlisting federal marshals to start a manhunt.

To someone like Angelo, who at 33 had made it as far as he had in life by mastering the most sophisticated financial game in the history of capitalism, the bracelet must have seemed ridiculously vulnerable—less like the device that tormented Will Smith in Enemy of the State and more like something you’d pick up for your feisty border collie at Petco. The bracelet itself was plastic—“tamper-resistant,” the government called it, but not tamper-proof. There was no command center with a phalanx of military personnel staring at a tiny light blipping on a digital screen, tracking his every move; there was no satellite that tipped off the police if he stepped too far from the front yard. The real weakness was obvious and therefore never likely far from Angelo’s thoughts: the absurd length of time it takes for anyone to recognize that a convict has gone missing.

The government, strangely, doesn’t monitor its home-confined white-collar felons directly or around-the-clock. Instead, it depends on a subcontracted private company to use the bracelet’s signal to draw up reports on every “program participant,” noting every early departure or late return home and each failure to return home after an authorized absence. Those write-ups only come out daily. Until the following day’s report, what Angelo did between his breakfast and dinner phone calls was entirely his own business. Angelo’s prosecutor had warned the judge about this very loophole a year earlier, in an impassioned, failed request to deny him bail: Anyone can cut the ankle bracelet. Anyone with a little money can buy a fake passport, slip into Canada or Mexico, then board a plane for who knows where. Anyone can disappear with an eight-hour head start—gone until dinner before he’s even missed. Most don’t, of course, because in the great cost-benefit analysis of life, the cost of leaving usually outweighs the benefit: There is the near certainty of more jail time if you’re caught, for starters, plus bail and the property put up as collateral behind it, not to mention the loved ones you’re forced to leave behind. The trick, if you decide to flee, is not minding the consequences—having, perhaps, an unhealthy appetite for risk.

January 10 was supposed to be Angelo’s last day of freedom, the day before he was expected to be sentenced to at least fifteen years in a federal prison. That morning, he awoke in Manhasset and made his usual call to the federal monitoring center before eight o’clock. Shortly after he hung up, he drove with his father, Vasilios, to his father’s welding and ironworks company in Maspeth, Queens, where the court had allowed him to spend some weekdays. He was expected home at four-thirty or five.

Not long before noon, Angelo told his father that he needed to drive into Manhattan to see his defense lawyer. Without fanfare, he hopped in his dad’s black Grand Cherokee and started toward the city. But he never made it to his lawyer’s; the truth was, he never even had an appointment. And that night, he didn’t come home.

Pretrial Services called the house shortly after Angelo blew the seven-o’clock curfew. Where was he? His parents said they didn’t know. Next came more calls—to his wife, his sister, his in-laws, and to the airports. The protocols had kicked in. The judge issued a warrant for Angelo’s arrest the next day.

Federal marshals took a week to find the Jeep parked on 39th Street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues. They had Angelo’s father open the door and immediately saw a pair of wire cutters on the back seat—and the bracelet in the front, on the floor. He was gone.

It’s not easy to make your name among the Ivan Boeskys and Mike Milkens and the other Wall Street white-collar-crime Hall of Famers—but Angelo Haligiannis is doing his best. Few have risen so far so fast: He was a college dropout with one year of experience on Wall Street who built an $80 million hedge fund out of nothing in just four years. Few conducted their schemes quite as audaciously: Angelo must be the only con man to have taken money from his sister, his in-laws, and the widow of a firefighter who died on 9/11. And once his fund proved to be nothing more than a glorified Ponzi scheme, Angelo joined an even more rarefied club: the select few who, shortly before sentencing, pull a vanishing act. Wherever he is now—and the manhunt continues—the federal marshals assigned to his case believe he has enough money stowed away to stay there for some time. What no one knows is what turned a bright kid from Queens into one of Wall Street’s most notorious grifters. And why, when he got busted, he risked even more and ran.

Success in the hedge-fund world came easily to Angelo—perhaps too easily. Born and raised in Flushing’s Greek-immigrant community, he went to Catholic school, bused tables at a neighborhood restaurant, and had a passion for souping up the engine of his Mustang GTS. He left NYU in his junior year, telling people that he had graduated early (in fact, he had dropped out), and took a job at Merrill Lynch as a broker’s assistant. Friends say he was instantly smitten with the perks of high finance—“the lifestyle, getting the limo ride home at night, all that,” says one. Angelo stayed at Merrill just thirteen months—enough time, he decided, to take what he’d learned and strike out on his own. Hanging his own shingle didn’t surprise those who knew him. “Even as a waiter, he was a total salesman,” says a friend. “If there was ten bottles of wine sold in a night, he probably sold eight of them. He had that charm, that charisma. It was like a little power trip for him.”

Living out the fantasy of nearly every 23-year-old Wall Street grunt, Angelo registered his hedge fund, Sterling Watters Group, in Delaware at the end of 1995. He opened three brokerage accounts (at Banc of America Securities and Chase in the States, HSBC in the Cayman Islands) and rented a desk at Worldco, a day-trading company at 110 Wall Street, where he immediately set about making bold trades in the tech market. This was the coming-out moment for hedge funds—the time they changed from arcane investment tools for billionaires to the must-have portfolio accessory for anyone hoping to outsmart the market. Hedge funds are essentially high-risk, high-reward mutual funds, pooling multiple investors’ money into one enterprise, though compared with mutual funds, hedge funds are almost completely unregulated. The fund manager, who usually works for 20 percent of the winnings, plus a small management fee, is free to dabble in stocks, bonds, derivatives—anything—without having to disclose exactly what he does and when he does it. Because of the additional risk, hedge funds are usually open only to investors with a net worth of at least $1 million.

Angelo found his own niche—friends and family. About half of Sterling Watters’s 80 investors met Angelo through the Greek-American social network in Queens. Who better to make the market seem safe to these people than a kid who was one of them—especially a kid like Angelo, with the apparent smarts of a Wall Street insider and the hunger and grit of an outsider? Angelo understood that even working stiffs in his old neighborhood, if they owned a home, were sitting on a net worth of at least a million dollars. At first, he advertised a minimum buy-in of $500,000, but he soon started bending the rules for people he knew, like his old boss at a restaurant in Queens, his childhood friends who’d grown up to become lawyers and doctors, and family members, too, like his sister, Evelyn. Angelo tapped another pool of clients from Michael Capul, a tall, portly broker whom he’d worked for at Merrill and who went on to work at Chase Investment Services.

Angelo’s marketing approach was a blend of technical Wall Street–speak and no-frills, just-us-guys approachability: In his first brochure, he described the fund as “a top-down aggressive capital appreciation fund” that combined “macroeconomic analysis” and “exhaustive quantitative proprietary modeling.” With his neighborhood contacts, Angelo employed an aloof, cocky version of the soft sell—never exactly coming out and asking for money, just going on in dizzying detail about how well he was doing. With interest rates diving, Angelo’s investors would take out second mortgages and dump the money into Sterling Watters. When Jerry Drenis, another contact from the Greek social network, started refinancing his family’s real-estate holdings to invest in Sterling Watters, Angelo offered to find him an attorney to assess the tax consequences of selling. They had a warm phone relationship that blossomed when they turned up at the same parties.

“Listen,” Jerry would say. “I have some money on the side, personal money. I’m waiting for permits, I’m building a new house, and there’s some money, but I need to keep it liquid.”

“Jer, give me the money,” Drenis remembers Angelo saying. “I know I have the restrictions where you have to withdraw quarterly, but for you I’ll make an exception. It’s just stupid, your letting the money sit in the bank now. You’re earning small returns.”

Drenis invested more than $700,000 in the spring of 2002, and close to $1 million in installments in 2003—then, in early 2004, he agreed to invest nearly $5 million, funds all from refinancing his family’s real-estate holdings. “It was a no-brainer,” Drenis says now. “He was making 10 percent a quarter.”

Angelo was actually making more than that. Within a year, Sterling Watters reported a net annual return on its investments of 53.93 percent, more than doubling the S&P 500’s 22.96 percent gain for 1996. A year later, the fund nearly tripled the market, claiming a 76.04 percent return. The year after that, Sterling Watters fell a few points short of the market’s gains, but in 1999, Angelo reported that he’d more than quadrupled the S&P’s 21 percent, earning a return of 87 percent.

Living well may have been the best advertising for the fund: His friends and investors didn’t fail to notice his black Porsche 911 Turbo and his $10,000-a-month apartment in the Beekman in the East Fifties. He set up personal accounts at the Palms, the Bellagio, and the Venetian in Las Vegas, the Tropicana and the Borgata in Atlantic City, and Foxwoods. As if his parents could be any prouder, he also married a beautiful girl from the old neighborhood: Liz Batalias, a dark-haired, olive-skinned NYU M.B.A. daughter of Greek immigrants. Liz’s family was wealthier than Angelo’s. Her father, Michael Batalias, owns the construction company EMD Contracting in Long Island City, and he reportedly threw the couple a six-figure wedding in Crete (and invested nearly $3 million in Sterling Watters). Liz’s brother, Louie Batalias, was the best man. In time, there was a daughter, Christina, born in 2003.

“He made no secret that he was living large,” says Jim Ziosis, a Greek-American investor who owns a home-décor business in Mineola. “And he made no secret that because he and his family made so much money with the fund, he was getting them all new cars and that his sister’s wedding was going to be at Cipriani’s.” Many of Angelo’s investors altered their own lives accordingly. “Some people said, ‘Why am I killing myself working twelve hours a day when we’re making hundreds of thousands of dollars a quarter with Sterling Watters?’ ” says Ziosis. “Vacations, home additions, cars. There was a lot of that. We all believed we were making a ton of money.”

Angelo’s luck started changing at the beginning of 2000, the year the tech market began correcting itself and the S&P dipped by 9 percent. That same year, Angelo, who had just moved into a spacious office on the 55th floor of the Citigroup building, published an “investor kit” claiming the fund had cumulative returns of 1,073 percent from 1996 to the second quarter of 2000, and eventually reported that Sterling Watters had posted another dazzling net return (41.45 percent) for all of 2000.

In reality, the Securities and Exchange Commission says, Angelo’s fund lost $17 million in 2000. It was Angelo’s first losing quarter, and he faced a decision: Report the losses as any manager would do, or fudge the numbers and try to make a quick comeback before anyone caught on. According to the SEC, this was the first quarter Angelo published false balance statements.

He was never able to turn things around. As the 2000 tech correction turned into the 2001 nasdaq crash, then into the 9/11 bust and the Iraq War bust, Angelo’s losses, and his deceptions, grew more and more grandiose. In 2002, Angelo said that Sterling Watters had a net return of 17.24 percent when, the SEC now says, it lost $5 million. As the fund continued to dwindle, Angelo needed fresh cash to cover his losses. Which is why, by early 2004, he was so eager for Jerry Drenis to invest his $5 million.

By the time Drenis scheduled a wire, Angelo had lost his practiced cool, calling him every hour.

“Where’s the money?” Drenis remembers Angelo asking him. “The money didn’t come!”

Drenis told Angelo the bank was probably sitting on the money until the end of the day.

“I’m telling you, your bank is screwing you!” said Angelo, according to Drenis. “Today’s a great day! The market is positive! You know how much money you’re losing?!” The $5 million arrived on February 2.

Months later, Angelo’s operation began to show cracks. To cover the interest payments on the property he’d refinanced at Angelo’s insistence, Drenis had arranged for Angelo to pay the mortgages with money from his investments (allegedly worth $9 million or $10 million at the time). But Drenis’s disbursements from Sterling Watters were arriving days and even weeks late, he says, and only after he’d call Angelo to scream at him about it. This was supposed to be petty cash for a fund that Angelo claimed was now worth $180 million—$100,000 checks here and there—but the checks never seemed to be forthcoming without a fight. Angelo always had an excuse—“I thought you said May 1st,” he’d said in April, according to Drenis.

Then Drenis started calling investors he knew, seeing if they were having problems with Angelo. He’d made similar due-diligence calls months earlier, before making his $5 million investment, and hadn’t heard an unkind word. This time, though, Gus Karayiannis, Angelo’s old boss at the Queens restaurant, told him that Angelo’s check to him for $135,000 had recently bounced. Drenis’s heart sank: If you’re running a $180 million hedge fund, Chase doesn’t bounce your $135,000 check.

Outwardly, Angelo still appeared to be doing fine. He’d bought the $2 million beach house for his parents; his trips to Vegas and Atlantic City continued. But in truth, Angelo’s situation was growing dire. He’d taken out a second $250,000 mortgage on his house to try to reinvest and cover some losses. More friends were pressing him to disburse millions of dollars that he didn’t have: $302,000 to Michael Capul, $530,000 to his childhood friend Chris Pavlatos, and more than $5 million to Jim Ziosis.

Desperate for new investors, Angelo dashed off a panicky, typo-filled e-mail in April of 2003 to Capul at Chase:

Let’s use some STRATEGY to try and close some business for a change, instead of this laid back casual shit we’ve been doing that has gotten us nothing but redemptions. I seriously don’t know what’s going on lately, bro, but it isn’t this hard to close business. It use to be good that we hitched our carts to eachy others horses, but this shit is getting tired. I want a strategy in place here on how we’re goiung to go forward … if we cant then just say so and I’ll stop hassling you.

By then, the SEC now says, Angelo had stopped trading entirely. The fund had less than $150,000.

Jerry Drenis knew about none of this, but he did know about a bounced check. He thought of going to the district attorney, or the SEC, or the FBI, or the police. Then, just as quickly, he shoved those thoughts aside. He had $8 million sitting with Angelo, at least on paper; if there was the slightest chance of getting it back, he couldn’t say a word. Others made that same calculation. As May turned to June, as many as 50 of Angelo’s 80 investors had asked for their money back and were cooling their heels while Angelo dodged phone calls and buried their redemption orders in paperwork. Nobody wanted to kill the golden goose.

After weeks of getting the runaround, Drenis was starting to panic. “Just prove to me that the money exists,” he said. “Then I’ll leave you alone.”

Finally, Angelo appeared to give in. “Okay,” Drenis says Angelo told him, “I spoke to my private banker at Chase—a girl in Texas. And she’s gonna call you.”

Drenis dialed Chase immediately. After countless transfers, he found the woman Angelo was referring to. Drenis says the woman put him on and off hold for an hour, then came back on the line and said, “Yes, the money’s in the account.”

“I almost pissed in my pants, I was so excited,” says Drenis, who called his sisters and started celebrating. He’d have the wire after lunch.

A few hours passed. No money.

He called Chase again. Angelo’s private banker was in a meeting.

“Get her out of the freaking meeting!”

When the woman finally came to the phone, she sounded as if she’d been crying.

“I’m so sorry,” she said, according to Drenis. “Angelo made me lie.”

“What do you mean?”

“When I was on the phone with you, he was on the other line. He was begging me to tell you the money is there.”

Drenis says he froze. “He was begging you?”

“He was saying that you people were harassing him—and you wouldn’t leave him alone—and he just needed some time to get the money in. Now I’ve been trying to call him, but I can’t find him!” (According to a lawyer involved in the matter, the banker denies any wrongdoing.)

Angelo offered another explanation, Drenis says: The money was offshore, tied up in something less than legal, hard to extract, just be patient. But Drenis was done. On Thursday afternoon, July 29, he walked into the U.S. Attorney’s Office at St. Andrew’s Plaza on Centre Street, filled out a complaint form, and left his name and number. He was a block away when his cell rang.

“Come back,” said the voice. “We want to talk to you.”

The next morning, Drenis called Angelo at his office and, to his surprise, found that Angelo was interested in meeting with him. They agreed to meet at Angelo’s lawyer’s office on Park Avenue.

Before leaving, Drenis called the man who had called his cell the previous afternoon: investigator Richard Krause from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Drenis had spent much of the afternoon with Krause and assistant U.S. attorneys, and while he quickly learned that he wasn’t the first person to have come to them about Angelo (that distinction is said to belong to Jim Ziosis), he was the first to furnish Krause with reams of documentation to help them make a case. That morning, he told Krause that if he wanted to arrest Angelo, he knew where he would be inside of an hour. Krause told Drenis he’d wait in Angelo’s lawyer’s lobby until Drenis called him.

An hour later, sitting in a conference room with Angelo and his attorney, John Harris, Drenis quickly learned what was on Angelo’s mind. Harris says he has a dim recollection of this meeting, but Drenis recalls that Angelo said that someone had made a menacing call to his wife, Liz, in Greece, where she and the baby were vacationing.

“Who threatened my wife?” he asked.

Drenis sensed another smoke screen. “I can give you names of a lot of people,” he said. “Forget about it, and give us the money back.”

Then, for the last time, he asked the question he’d been asking for weeks: “Do you have the money?”

Angelo stalled again.

“I will,” Angelo said. “Today.”

Drenis pulled out his cell and dialed Krause.

“Yeah, Dad?” he said. “I’m with Angelo, and he doesn’t have the money.”

Minutes later, Drenis saw them through the conference-room window—Krause and his men, flashing their warrant at the front desk. Angelo’s lawyer was summoned, then he came back for Angelo.

“Come with me, Angelo,” Harris said.

Angelo walked over and heard what Krause had to say. He glanced at the paper in Krause’s hand. Then he looked back over toward Drenis—shaking his head, not saying a word. But his lawyer couldn’t help himself.

“Now,” he said, “you’re never gonna get your money back.”

The SEC and the Justice Department say that Angelo collected roughly $80 million from investors, which Angelo claimed he’d parlayed into the $180 million, at least on paper. Accounts vary, but Angelo is believed to have spent or pocketed between $19 million and $50 million and lost the rest in the market. Chief among the victims was the Drenis family, which invested nearly $8 million and walked away with $732,000. The list of aggrieved parties is peppered with childhood friends like Marvin Base ($1 million), family members (his in-laws lost $2 million; his sister, Evelyn, $1 million), Greek-American connections like Ziosis (about $1 million), and even strangers like the Goktekin family, Turkish immigrants who lost almost $1 million and couldn’t pay their daughter’s medical-school tuition. The most poignant victim is Susan Barnes, whose firefighter husband, Matthew, died on 9/11. She lost $2.35 million—every penny she had invested in Sterling Watters, and most of it straight from the victims-compensation fund. By all accounts, she hadn’t even met Angelo (Michael Capul was her banker at Chase), but Angelo collected the bulk of her investment just a few weeks before his arrest. (It’s a painful truth that the last ones to enter a Ponzi scheme are the ones left with nothing at all.) In Barnes’s only known communication about the case, a letter to the judge, her attorney explained that the trauma of losing the money felt like losing her husband all over again.

The bilked investors descended like a lynch mob at Angelo’s November 9 bail hearing, held before Judge Loretta Swain in the federal courthouse downtown. “Poor Judge Swain,” one lawyer says. “She’s so decorous. She usually says, ‘Thank you all for coming.’ Then she looks over the trial well into the audience and says, ‘Thank you all for coming.’ Then this time, before she knows it, there’s a brawl. This one guy is saying, ‘You killed my father!’ ” On the way out of the courthouse, after another hearing, Angelo’s lawyer discovered the words BURN IN HELL scrawled in lipstick on his Porsche.

The following September, Angelo pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud and one count of investment-adviser fraud. Four months later came his scheduled sentencing. Those who were there on January 11 remember the courtroom being unusually quiet, like a church. After a long wait, a court officer whispered to one lawyer, “Angelo is in the wind.” Instead of sentencing Angelo that day, the judge issued a warrant for his arrest.

Why did he do it? Why didn’t he just own up to his losses like any other manager would? Perhaps because Angelo wasn’t any other manager: He was a kid in his late twenties who came into the market at a time of historic growth and rode that wave to stratospheric returns. When the inevitable downturn came, Angelo had no reference point. He had no way of knowing that the bear market might stick around for a while. “There was an element of believing that all he needed was time,” says a source close to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “But it’s not an on-off switch. And the more you get desperate, the more you do horrible things.” (Angelo’s criminal attorney, Maranda Fritz, won’t comment on her client other than to say he was a well-intentioned kid who made a lot of money for a lot of people before getting in over his head.)

Angelo was also in deeper than a lot of money managers because his investors were family and friends. “Everyone’s been coming to you for some time saying you’re doing great, treating you like a financial wizard and a savior,” says a source close to the prosecution. “It’s a status thing. You’re admitting that you can’t beat the markets every time and you’re not as infallible as you thought you were.” Finally, to Angelo, the near-total absence of regulation and oversight of hedge funds must have seemed like a joke. Or an invitation.

Angelo’s calculation to run must have looked something like this: If he stayed, he’d have to do as many as fifteen years and pay millions in compensation and fines. He’d also lose access to whatever money he may have hidden away offshore—and the ability ever to trade again. Then there was his family. Liz would probably divorce him; her family is said to have urged her to leave him, and one source says that by last January she’d moved out of her in-laws’ basement, where Angelo was under house arrest. And Christina would grow up seeing her father behind bars. “Angelo would never have tolerated the daughter being brought in to see him,” a friend says.

So he could run. In that scenario, there was no jail time, assuming he was resourceful enough not to get caught; the possibility of accessing millions in foreign accounts; even, perhaps, the ability to do business again, out of reach of the laws of the United States. Yes, there would be some sacrifices. His parents had put up a $1 million bond for his bail, secured by the house in Flushing where Angelo grew up. If he left, the home would be lost to the Feds. He wouldn’t see Liz or Christina again for years, perhaps ever.

But factor in a fondness for the finer things in life, an excessive comfort with risk, and an almost pathological sense that he could beat just about any system, and Angelo’s choice probably wasn’t much of a choice at all. Some experts wonder why more white-collar criminals don’t try to put off prison by fleeing. “I think it’s remarkable that Bernie Ebbers drove himself to jail for twenty years,” one former white- collar prosecutor says. “Why not flee? Go to Canada, go to Mexico? You’re starting with people who don’t have a straight moral compass. They do a moral calculus where they decide to try life on the run and put this problem off. Anything can happen before sentencing, but then you go.”

Most fugitives drop out of sight for months or years before reaching out to loved ones. Angelo waited just a few days before calling his wife. Liz told the marshals about a week after his disappearance that he had been calling—telling her he was okay, asking how Christina was doing. Angelo’s first call came from his grandmother’s house in Athens, Liz told the marshals. But by the time she was talking to them, she said, Angelo had moved on and she didn’t know where he was. Liz has told the marshals she didn’t know of Angelo’s plans to flee and isn’t helping him now (she declined to be interviewed for this story, but her attorney adamantly maintains she’s done nothing wrong). Living in Manhattan with Christina and working for her father’s construction company, she has told the marshals she’s trying to move on with her life.

The marshals believe, however, that Liz knows more than she’s let on. From the start, getting even basic information from her has been “like pulling teeth,” says the deputy marshal in charge of Angelo’s case (it’s against the agency’s policy to reveal agents’ names). All summer, the marshal says, Liz appeared to be feeding him just enough information to keep them from making an obstruction-of-justice case against her. One day last month, the marshal says, she let it slip that she’d been sharing snapshots of Christina with Angelo on the Internet. Since then, he says, she’s insisted the marshals speak to her through her lawyer. As recently as last November, the marshal says, Liz and Angelo made several trips to the Greek embassy. Once, Angelo claimed that he’d lost his old passport and needed a new one. Another time, Liz called to ask for their marriage to be registered in Greece, perhaps so that Angelo, who was native-born, might get a Greek passport. The marshal notes that these were naïve efforts; Angelo in no way qualified for dual citizenship, and besides, his name was on a warning letter the U.S. Attorney’s Office had sent to the Greek authorities.

If Liz is cooperating with Angelo, her motivation, victims suspect, is money. Even after all the losses and lavish spending, Drenis calculates Angelo could still have millions stashed away. After all this time, in other words, Angelo still could be the golden goose. “I think this was his fail-safe plan,” says Drenis. “Maybe his wife and his kid will meet up with him at some point.”

The marshals believe Angelo is still in Greece, though he may be visiting other countries using a false I.D. Their last hard lead came this summer, when a record of his driver’s license was found in a Greek casino (I.D.’s are required to enter casinos in Greece). Other leads have gone nowhere: They’ve looked for bank accounts here and offshore but haven’t found any. They’ve tried tracing Angelo through the prescription drugs he needs to treat an autoimmune condition called CIDP (chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy), but in Greece, it turns out, all medicines are sold over the counter. “It’s like tracking vitamins,” a marshal says. The marshals continue to work with the Greek government on locating him—a provisional arrest warrant is already prepared—but for reasons unknown to the marshals, the local authorities have been slow to act. (The marshals’ contacts in the U.S. embassy in Greece won’t comment on continuing investigations.) In the end, it seems that unless Liz is helping him and either slips up or turns on him, or Angelo’s money starts running out, or his illness takes a turn for the worse, or Interpol turns up a new lead, it’s unlikely that Angelo will be brought home again.

Back in January, after searching all over Manhattan for the Jeep at garages and impound lots, the marshals eventually just called Liz: “The next time he calls,” they told her, “ask him where the car is.” Sure enough, Angelo called, Liz asked, and he told her. When the marshals found the Jeep, they also tracked down a videotape that was shot from a camera mounted on a nearby office building. There, on the afternoon of January 10, is the last known sighting of Angelo Haligiannis, shutting the door and strolling down the sidewalk toward Eleventh Avenue - out of the frame and into the unknown, without, it seems, a worry in the world.

[ RGM Short Selling Home page ]