Criminal Justice

Robert Vesco, Famed Fugitive, May Have Died in Cuba

A famous fugitive for decades after the publicity surrounding the Watergate scandal helped make him a household name, Robert Vesco reportedly may be dead at age 71 or 72. But although major news organizations have published his obituary, officials aren’t positive that the notorious con man and claimed associate of Latin American presidents, Soviet spies and even the CIA is actually deceased.

“I’m not certain he’s dead,” writer Arthur Herzog, who once interviewed Vesco for a biography, says in an Associated Press obituary today. Herzog says he recently talked with a Havana contact, who says he spoke with Vesco months after he reportedly may have died.

The New York Times, which first reported Vesco’s apparent demise, says a reporter saw photos and videos of an apparently ailing Vesco and what seems to have been his burial.

According to the Times and Reuters, relatives of Vesco say he died of lung cancer in Havana on Nov. 23 and was buried the next day. His family is still looking for his money, one relative tells Reuters.

Vesco is wanted in the U.S., where he is charged with looting $224 million from a Swiss-based mutual stock fund’s investors. He also allegedly contributed $200,000 to former President Richard M. Nixon’s 1972 campaign, in an effort to fend off a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, the AP recounts.

He was implicated as well in a scheme to bribe U.S. officials to allow Libya to buy American planes during the administration of former President Jimmy Carter, the New York Times notes.

Vesco was eventually imprisoned in Cuba, where he and his family lived for a time in an offshore yacht, after being convicted of marketing an alleged AIDS and cancer-curing drug without government permission. “His business partner, Donald A. Nixon Jr.—nephew of former President Nixon—was detained along with Vesco but was later released,” the AP writes.

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