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V13 2010 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 13, Number 15, April 11, 2010, Article 16

1975 STACK'S EXTORTIONIST TURNS HIMSELF IN

A New York Times article this week profiles a man arrested in 1975 for attempting to extort $10,000 from the New York coin firm Stack's. He jumped bail and has been hiding from the authorities for 35 years. -Editor

Stacks

FOR more than three decades, Kurt Seidl worked as a chef, cook, bartender and, most recently, nanny. He wrote in his spare time, self-publishing collections of short stories under the name Gerald Conteh.

But Mr. Seidl was not only writing under a pen name; it turns out he was also living under one.

In 1975, Mr. Seidl was arrested on federal charges that he tried to extort $10,000 from a leading rare-coin dealership in Manhattan; the government said he sent a letter threatening to damage the firm’s reputation if it did not pay.

He jumped bail and became a fugitive. Then, last November, while in the hospital with chest pains, Mr. Seidl, now 63, feared he was dying and decided to surrender to the authorities. Once out of the hospital, he dialed the city’s 311 line from a pay phone. The police showed up and handed him over to the F.B.I. He was released on his own recognizance after a month in jail and is now living in a men’s shelter on Manhattan’s East Side, awaiting his next court hearing.

“I said to myself, well, let me just clean everything up,” explained Mr. Seidl. “I mean, it was a wrong thing I did long time ago.”

The United States attorney’s office declined to comment on the case, and Robert M. Baum, Mr. Seidl’s lawyer, would not let his client discuss the charges against him as well as some aspects of his time as a fugitive. And many details Mr. Seidl provided about his life could not be independently verified.

A Czech who also speaks Spanish and German, Mr. Seidl said in a series of recent interviews that he served in the Czechoslovak Army in the 1960s, including in counterintelligence, but fled after the 1968 Soviet invasion. “I have about 100 different ways how not to get caught,” he noted.

It was in 1975 that Mr. Seidl and two others were accused in the plot to extort $10,000 from the coin firm, Stack’s, government court papers show. According to the filings, Mr. Seidl’s letter threatened, “By donating this sum, you would be saving yourselves your families and business much consternation.”

Mr. Seidl said he had wanted to turn himself in sooner: “For years it bothered me.”

To read the complete article, see: Hiding in Plain Sight as Chef, Nanny, Author (www.nytimes.com/2010/04/11/nyregion/11fugitive.html)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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