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Published: Monday, 3/5/2001

Frankel criticizes treatment by U.S.

FROM BLADE STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Former fugitive Marty Frankel appeared in federal court to face racketeering and fraud charges yesterday and complained about his prison treatment, saying his only clothing is a plastic gown and he was given nothing but a plastic sheet for his bed.

The Toledo native has been kept at a maximum security Connecticut prison, Northern Correctional Institution, which houses death row inmates and violent criminals.

“I think Frankel describes this as the kind of cell that in the movies would incarcerate Hannibal Lecter,” said his lawyer, Jeremiah Donovan. The character of Hannibal Lecter is a serial killer in the film Hannibal.

Frankel, 44, was taken to the prison Friday after extradition from Germany.

U.S. Marshal John O'Connor said Frankel, 44, was placed in Northern because German authorities said he is suicidal.

Mr. Donovan said Frankel was never suicidal in the year and a half he was in a German prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kari Dooley said Frankel tried to escape the German prison shortly before he was extradited.

“To suggest that he is being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment I think is premature,” Ms. Dooley said.

The investor is charged with stealing $200 million from seven insurance firms under his control.

The German court approved his release just days after another member of Frankel's inner circle, Sonia Howe, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Connecticut on money laundering and racketeering charges.

The former Toledo resident, 41, who was once engaged to Mr. Frankel, is accused of forging documents to make it appear that her boss was safely investing the reserves of his insurance firms.

Frankel was clean-shaven and wearing glasses when he appeared briefly in U.S. District Court.

Federal Magistrate Joan Margolis said the two sides should negotiate a different prison to house Frankel as he awaits trial. She refused to set bail. Arraignment will be March 12.

During yesterday's hearing, held a day early because of a predicted snowstorm in the Northeast, Ms. Margolis read Mr. Frankel his rights and prosecutors explained the charges of wire fraud, securities fraud, racketeering, and racketeering conspiracy.

Frankel is accused of defrauding insurers in Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. Regulators are seeking more than $600 million in damages from him in civil cases.

Frankel fled the United States in May, 1999, but was arrested four months later in a hotel room in Hamburg, Germany.

Mr. Frankel could be sentenced to up to 410 years in prison if convicted on all counts of money laundering, fraud, racketeering.

He is accused of looting more than $200 million from six insurance companies.



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