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Reply #8: National Century trial Columbus Ohio - Where is Rebecca Parrett? [View All]

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DemReadingDU Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-19-08 06:07 AM
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8. National Century trial Columbus Ohio - Where is Rebecca Parrett?

5/18/08 Where is showy fugitive? Her past yields few clues

CAREFREE, Ariz. -- The day after being convicted in Columbus of the nation's largest fraud of a privately held company, Rebecca S. Parrett boarded a plane headed for this Phoenix suburb.

Carefree has a name befitting the life Parrett seemingly tried to create.

She bought a $3 million home perched on a mountain ridge and built it into a $6 million estate. The main quarters, guest house and stable are a mix of the Southwest and the expensive elegance of the corporate world she never completely left behind.

The manor became a centerpiece for Parrett's passions: hosting gatherings of artists, holding upscale fundraisers for animal-rescue groups, and occasionally housing missionaries from the evangelical church she supported.

Her trip to Carefree in mid-March, however, was supposed to be an excursion. Federal Judge Algenon L. Marbley had allowed her to return to her Arizona home only while she was waiting to be sentenced.

Parrett arrived. But she didn't stay long.

Vanishing act
She landed at the Phoenix airport in the early-morning hours of Saturday, March 15 -- less than 48 hours after a jury found her guilty of securities fraud linked to the collapse of the health-care financing company National Century Financial Enterprises.

A day later, she disappeared.

Federal officials think that Parrett, 59, flew the coop to avoid a sentence that could be as much as 75 years -- effectively a life sentence.

Her son, Rob Parrett, wonders if something has happened to her.

"I don't think she would have taken off without saying something," her sole child said. "I want to know she's OK."

He said he has been piecing together events surrounding his mother's disappearance from those who talked to her last. Parrett supported him financially through several failed business ventures, but the 41-year-old son hadn't talked to her much during the 5 1/2 -week trial.

She told Columbus relatives she was planning to use her time in prison to write a book. But, first, she needed a few days to clear her head.

She said she was going to Casa Sedona on March 16, a $319-a-night bed and breakfast in northern Arizona. It's unclear whether she actually went, said Deputy U.S. Marshal Drew Shadwick, the leading investigator in her disappearance.

Rob Parrett said he called Casa Sedona that week to check on his mother and was told she was there under a "do not disturb" request. However, when he called the next day, he was told she had never been there.

Last week, a clerk told The Dispatch there is no record that Parrett was ever there. No single guests checked in March 16, as Parrett supposedly did.

Her sixth husband, Gary Green, is the last person known to have seen her, Shadwick says.

Green, however, told Rob Parrett that he was in a motorcycle accident that day, the 16th, and can't remember things from that weekend, Parrett said.

Green did not return calls from The Dispatch for comment. He recently moved out of the couple's Carefree home and could not be located.

Two months of drugs
It's possible that Parrett fled the country, her son acknowledges. After being indicted in 2006, Parrett hinted that she might leave.

"She said she 'wasn't going to jail for something she didn't do,' " Rob Parrett said.

His mother, who was convicted of bilking investors out of more than $2 billion, thought the U.S. government was corrupt.

Although prosecutors have described an alleged plot for executives to escape to Aruba since their convictions, Parrett said in 2006 that she would head for Costa Rica, her son said.

Parrett picked up a two-month supply of medication at her Arizona pharmacy before disappearing. Rob Parrett said her medical condition was life-threatening, although he said he doesn't know what it is.

Since National Century collapsed in 2002, Parrett was fearful, friends and family members said. She had received death threats and slept with a machine gun, her husband told neighbor Howard Keim.

Parrett met Green when she hired him as a bodyguard and security consultant. The two married in 2005.

If she was going to flee, she would have at least quietly made arrangements for things important to her, her son said.

She was, by all accounts, consumed with small details.

But if she fled, the woman who raised money for animal rescues abandoned "her babies" -- three Alaskan Malamute dogs and four cats -- at her desert home.

The artwork and jewelry she treasured was left, too.

A lavish life
Defense Attorney Greg Peterson argued for Parrett's release pending sentencing, saying she wasn't a flight risk: She had surrendered her passport and "was practically indigent."

Since then, Peterson has raised the possibility that Parrett is dead and said that he had been worried about her health. Peterson said he didn't know what was wrong with her.

How much money Parrett has now is unclear.

Born in West Virginia to parents who had not graduated from high school, Parrett made more than $7 million at National Century, prosecutors noted in her trial. She spent that lavishly on herself and others.

A fan of the Rev. Robert Schuller, she once flew herself and some relatives to California for his Easter service and dinner before returning that day, neighbor Dave Wilson said.

And when she bought the home in Carefree, Parrett had "truck after truck" of cement delivered to the home for renovations, Wilson said. She added an indoor pool, high-tech equipment for intercoms and sound and security systems, friends and neighbors said.

Showcased artwork hung throughout the home above marble floors. And it wasn't the only home she owned.

She purchased an $89,000 home her mother lives in on the West Side of Columbus. And she bought a $700,000 Fountain Hills, Ariz., home that her son used for many years. She also set up a trust fund in his name that helps him pay bills, he said.

For a few years in the mid-2000s, she had an art gallery in Carefree. Before that, she was an investor in an art gallery in Vail, Colo., she told a Carefree reporter when her gallery opened.

She ran a nonprofit agency called Be Our Best Inc. that catered to children and animals. She also donated to the West Valley Children's Crisis Center, in Glendale, Ariz., which cares for children in protective custody, Rob Parrett said.

Punishment pending
The last time Parrett said he saw his mother was March 9, his birthday. He described that Sunday morning:

She knocked on the guest house at her ranch estate, where he had been living, about 7:30 a.m.

She was flying back to Columbus that morning for the last week of the trial. She handed him a card and spoke for about two minutes. The card, he remembers, was a serious one, talking about life's changes and how they could be overcome.

He talked to his mother once more, briefly by phone, before her conviction, Rob Parrett said. Calls since then have gone straight to voice mail, he said.

Since her disappearance, neighbors say vehicles with dark windows ride by the house daily. They think federal officials are watching to see if she comes back.

Shadwick, the marshal, will say little about the search for Parrett except that the investigation is continuing. Her disappearance has been featured on the Web site for the television show America's Most Wanted. Those involved with the case say that if Parrett left hoping to avoid sentencing, she will be disappointed. Even her attorney has said that Judge Marbley can sentence her without her being present.

And the prison time will be waiting for her when she is found.

http://dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/200...



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