Releasing Financial Data, a Hard Choice for the Family

Posted by JJinPhila on May 24, 2009 

            The title is a bit deceptive, and I apologize for that.  I have, in previous entries, said that I understand the families concerns about the issue of how much money former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar had when he disappeared.  I understand why the family wishes to keep that confidential; most people simply don’t advertise their assets.  Mr. Gricar’s daughter Lara said, when asked by my predecessor about the assets, her response was, “That’s nobody’s business.”

I would add that family spokesman, Tony Gricar has stated that, obviously, this relates only to public discloser, and that statement does not apply to law enforcement.  At this point, I agree.  The public do not have a need to know; I am part of the public and I do not have a need to know.  The right to privacy outweighs public curiosity, for now. 

            Revealing finances can put the family in a vulnerable position.  I certainly wouldn’t want my back balance disclosed publicly.  (You would either gasp or laugh.)  Certainly, public disclosure could be a negative for the family.

            In terms of generating leads, this might be the most limited thing that could be released.  It is very unlikely that this will produce a witness, unlike some of the other things.  Someone might read the financial data and connect the dots, but that is about it; I’d frankly think that there are forensic accountants that would be much better at connecting the dots.

            There is, however, the question of public opinion.  The family spokesman, Mr. Gricar’s nephew, also made this statement on a public message board.  It is remarkable for its public candor:

“From a media standpoint, here's how I've always viewed the 3 scenarios:
1.) foul play = sympathetic event
2.) suicide = sympathetic event
3.) walkaway = public scorn and outrage (see: Bride, Runaway)”

In fairness to Tony Gricar, that is just a part statement, as he was generally discussing the release of the information about the computer searches; his full comments can be viewed in context at that site.  He may or may not be accurate in his assessment of public opinion.  I think it is fair to say that he doesn’t want his uncle’s disappearance to be viewed with “public scorn and outrage.”

            The problem with these two statements is this.  The best argument that I’ve heard against walkaway is that Mr. Gricar would suffer a major financial loss by walking away.  He certainly would lose immediate access to his pension, which is unclaimed.   The Pension  He cannot directly access his bank assets.  But even this argument is weakened by what financial data has been known publicly.  Even taking the 4.5 years prior to Mr. Gricar’s disappearance, basically after his divorce, he was making, as a low average, $80.000 net.  He would basically have to be spending at least $50,000 a year on himself, and then put $20.000 in the bank to have the assets claimed.  $50,000 per year is a heck of a lot of Gray Goose Martinis, vacations, and Mini Coopers.  Further, from some indications I’ve had had, he had at least some assets left after his divorce.

 Income and Assets

            Now, obviously, there may be reasonable explanations for this.  I don’t know what they are, because Mr. Gricar’s financial data has never been released.  This creates a dilemma for the family.  Walkaway will cause “public scorn and outrage,” according to the family spokesman.  The best argument against walkaway is releasing the financial data.  Because of (very legitimate) privacy concerns, the family will not release financial data.

            At some point, Mr. Gricar’s family may be faced with problem.  They may either be faced with Mr. Gricar’s disappearance being regarded with “public scorn and outrage,” because the public thinks he has voluntarily departed from his life or with surrendering some his privacy.  The investigation, in a public sense, is not at this point yet, but it may be, sooner rather than later.  If it reaches that point, I will be one of the people calling on Lara Gricar to release the information, if the family wishes to claim that walkaway is not the explanation.

Releasing the financial data might help form public perception of the case, but finding that all money; all non-cash transactions can be accounted for, or some unaccounted for, for probably wouldn’t generate anything new.  This is more of a weapon in the “battle” to shape public opinion than an investigative tool.

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