Tuesday, April 25, 2000

FBI asks for tips in case




By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FLORENCE — It was after midnight when the man knocked on the British businessman's hotel room door.

        He said he was a federal agent and he was looking for Paul Jeffrey Gale. Mr. Gale was in the federal witness protection program, the man told hotel employees. They watched as Mr. Gale, his hands cuffed behind his back, was led outside and into the front seat of a white car.

        That, investigators say, may have been the last time anybody saw Mr. Gale, 28, of Naples, Fla. He had been staying at the Holiday Inn in Florence, in town doing consulting work to help Shire Pharmaceutical Co. of Kentucky with its acquisition of Roberts Pharmaceutical Co. of Eatontown, a co-worker said.

        He left the hotel shortly after midnight April 17. Co-workers reported him missing after he failed to show up for an appointment at a Florence pharmaceutical company.

        Now, real FBI agents are trying to figure out what happened.

        They say they know what

        the fake agent, since identified as Gregory Marcinski, 23, of Brick, N.J., admits: that he picked Mr. Gale up at the hotel to talk to him about his girlfriend, whom Mr. Marcinski had dated until recently. Mr. Gale knew of Mr. Marcinski, local agents said, but did not know what he looked like.

        Investigators admit they have little to go on. They're focusing on a phone call to the girlfriend's house about 3 a.m. the day Mr. Gale disappeared. She slept through the call. The next morning, she found the call had come from her boyfriend's cell phone.

        Agents said Monday they don't know whether Mr. Gale or Mr. Marcinski made the call. They do know that the caller was likely driving north on Interstate 71 at the time, though, about halfway between Cincinnati and Columbus.

        They're hoping someone driving along I-71 might have seen the two men together. They were driving in Mr. Marcinski's grandmother's car, a 1989 white Buick Century.

        “We'd just like to hear from anyone who might have seen anything,” said Pat Maley, supervisory special agent in the FBI's Crestview Hills office.

        Since Mr. Gale disappeared, agents also have learned that Mr. Marcinski may have been planning his visit to Florence. About a week before, a man identifying himself as an FBI agent called Roberts/Shire Pharmaceuticals in Florence asking questions about Mr. Gale, according to court documents; the company traced the phone calls, and the FBI tracked both numbers to the suspect.

        Mr. Marcinski, in federal custody in New Jersey on a charge of impersonating a federal agent, claims he and Mr. Gale drove around for an hour or two that morning. But he insists he dropped the missing man off in the lot of the Marriott hotel near the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport. Mr. Gale asked to be left there, the suspect claims, because he had a co-worker staying there who would take him back to his hotel.

        Mr. Marcinski was arrested after he called Larry Adams, an agent in the FBI's Crestview Hills office, and outlined his story. He said he drove to Florence to “clear the air” with Mr. Gale about the woman both dated.

        Agents questioned the girlfriend, who lives in New Jersey and used to work with Mr. Gale. She is not a suspect.

        She gave investigators one fact that particularly interested them about Mr. Marcinski — that he once showed her a computer in his basement on which he made a fake FBI badge.

        Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at (606) 341-3901 or Florence police at (606) 371-1234.

       



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