Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Federal judge won't free Arthur Nadel from custody in Pinellas

Arthur Nadel is in federal custody in Pinellas County. He’s expected to be tried in New York.

Arthur Nadel is in federal custody in Pinellas County. He’s expected to be tried in New York.

TAMPA — Arthur G. Nadel, the 76-year-old hedge fund investor from Sarasota, poses a flight risk too large to release him from federal custody.

That's what U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Pizzo decided Friday after hearing 3 1/2 hours of legal arguments.

A federal criminal complaint filed in New York accuses Nadel of deceiving more than 100 investors across the United States, exaggerating the value of their investments by almost $300 million. He is also charged with wire fraud, citing $1.25 million of transfers to secret accounts.

Pizzo said there is no condition under which he would feel assured that Nadel would show for his trial, expected to be in New York, if he were released.

"I find so much unexplained here … that these hidden assets or unexplained assets show a significant chance that you will flee," Pizzo said.

Attorneys on both sides cited the case of Bernard Madoff, the high-profile hedge fund investor from Palm Beach who is accused of operating a $50 billion Ponzi scheme.

Defense attorneys noted that even Madoff was granted house arrest. But prosecutors highlighted his strict bail requirement: Madoff had to post a $10 million secured bond.

Pizzo said that if he were going to entertain a bond for Nadel, it would start at $5 million But ultimately, he refused any bond at all.

Nadel was reported missing Jan. 14 after his wife found a letter telling her he thought people wanted to kill him and he intended to kill himself.

Federal prosecutor Terry Zitek told the court Friday that cell phone records indicated sometime during his two-week absence, Nadel might have been in Louisiana. His cell phone stopped being used Jan. 15.

Additionally, authorities say they found a second letter from Nadel to his wife in his office shredder instructing her on how to access accounts in his absence.

But defense attorneys Barry Cohen and Todd Foster painted a different picture of their client: that of a contrite, emotionally troubled, cash-strapped man who, at the end of his life, wants to make things right.

Cohen said he has no money to post bail, let alone pay for a legal defense. The prominent Tampa defense attorney said he is representing Nadel without pay.

When Nadel disappeared, there were no warrants for his arrest. He was distraught and needed to sort through suicidal thoughts, Cohen said.

Six days later, on Jan. 20, Cohen said he spoke to Nadel by phone and encouraged him to talk with a psychiatrist. Four days after that, Nadel flew to Tampa and checked into the Marriott under his own name, Cohen said.

"Where did he fly from?" Pizzo interrupted.

"I don't have that information," Cohen answered.

Cohen said when he met with Nadel on Sunday, his client told him he wanted to check into a mental health facility.

On Monday morning, Nadel went to see Tampa psychiatrist Robert Fernandez, then left to visit his family. Cohen said it was Monday when Nadel's family became concerned that federal authorities were searching for him.

So Cohen contacted the U.S. Attorney's Office and notified them Nadel would be turning himself in Tuesday morning.

"Mr. Nadel is humiliated about this whole experience being locked up in shackles, disgraced before his family," Cohen said.

But Zitek argued that Nadel did nothing to tell anyone he was all right, despite widespread media coverage of his disappearance.

"The letters that were written … very strongly suggest that he had planned this flight in advance," Zitek said. "He left his company, co-workers, everybody high and dry."

Before court adjourned at 5 p.m., Cohen indicated he'd likely file a motion asking the court to reconsider. Pizzo, meanwhile, is expected to enter his order in writing Monday, at which point Nadel could face extradition to New York.

Federal judge won't free Arthur Nadel from custody in Pinellas 01/30/09 [Last modified: Sunday, February 1, 2009 6:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of July 16, 2017


    Seems like Broward County has started a domino effect. It was the first school board to commit to filing a lawsuit against the state and its controversial education bill, House Bill 7069. Then, the St. Lucie County School Board signed on, too. A running tally of school boards that have reportedly expressed interested in …

    Kali Davis (left), training director for Springboard to Success, helps to coach Justin Black (center), who will be starting his third year of teaching PE at Melrose Elementary, as he works to instruct students in a math lesson during the Spring Board program of Summer Bridge at Woodlawn Elementary School in St. Petersburg.
  2. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally


    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  3. Kushner to testify before two intelligence committees


    WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is set to make a second appearance on Capitol Hill — he will speak with the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, one day after he is scheduled to speak with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators behind closed doors.

    White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. [Associated Press]
  4. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  5. Exhumation of Dalí's remains finds his mustache still intact


    FIGUERES, Spain — Forensic experts in Spain have removed hair, nails and two long bones from Salvador Dalí's embalmed remains to aid a court-ordered paternity test that may enable a woman who says she is the surrealist artist's daughter to claim part of Dalí's vast estate.

    Salvador Dal? died in 1989 leaving vast estate.