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Long-Sought Vesco Called Good Neighbor Details On Case Come From U.S.; Cuba Hasn’t Offered To Extradite

To a neighbor, Robert Vesco was just a pleasant man who lived in the comfortable twostory house on the corner - until Friday, when she found out he was a renegade financier and international fugitive.

“He’s a good man,” said Marilena Garcia. “Sometimes we’d meet in the supermarket and greet each other.” She also knew his wife and daughter, but said it had been a long time since she’d seen them.

On Friday, the house looked vacant, its front door sealed with an official-looking tape. Early this week, police swept through the home searching his possessions and - apparently - taking Vesco away.

Clinton administration sources in Washington said Thursday that Cuba had notified them Vesco was under arrest on unspecified charges. Cuban officials haven’t commented on the case.

“There is an investigative process,” was all the guard at the house would say Friday. He shooed photographers away.

Vesco fled the United States in 1972 facing civil charges that he defrauded investors of a mutual fund out of $224 million. Vesco, now 59, also faces a charge of making an illegal $200,000 contribution to President Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign in 1972.

In 1989, Vesco was indicted on drug conspiracy charges in Jacksonville, Fla. He was accused of arranging with Cuban authorities to let planes used by Colombian cocaine kingpin Carlos Lehder Rivas overfly the island on smuggling runs from Nicaragua to Andros Island in the Bahamas.

Vesco roamed from country to country, trying to avoid extradition, before settling in Cuba in 1982. Until recently, he apparently had a good relationship with the Castro government.

Clinton administration sources say the Havana government has asked for information on the charges pending against Vesco. But they say Cuba hasn’t formally offered to extradite him.