Special Reports

Roads Not Taken: Cash for the Road Trip

            In looking at the disappearance of Ray Gricar, one subject, almost unknown has come up again and again.  Should the former Centre County District Attorney have had greater resources than were found after he vanished?  The answer might point to Mr. Gricar walking away or to murder.

            I wrote about this, in a fair amount of detail, more than a year ago:  Income and Assets  I have to admit, it looks like he should have had more.  One of his closest friends, and a subordinate at the office, Steve Sloane, also commented on the smallness of Mr. Gricar’s assets.  He said, “Wow.  He should have had more money than that, I would think. He wasn't into investing. He wasn't very into 401(k)s or IRAs.”1 

            There is something else.  Mr. Gricar generally drove a Mini Cooper, but it was not his Mini Cooper.  Though Mr. Gricar paid for it, he put it in the name of his girlfriend, Patty Fornicola.  According the police, Mr. Gricar did this in case he was sued.  He was sheltering an asset.1

            These two things open up two possibilities.  One, Mr. Gricar had planned to walk away for a long time, as kind of a finale to his career, something that would leave everyone remembering his name.  Two, he had sheltered a lot of assets and decided that the best way to gain assess to them, without raising any questions, was to vanish.  In that case, he didn’t walk away from anything; he walked away to his assets.  Those represent possibilities, but not the only ones relating to assets.

            There may be a much more mundane reason for the lower assets.  He could have spent them on family or friends, or even made some bad investments.  He could have lost most of it in his divorce.  He could have also loaned someone some money.

            That is where the motive for a murder could arise.  What if Mr. Gricar had loaned someone some money, maybe 5-6 years before, and wanted it back.  He could have both been sheltering assets and made a loan of some of then.  It would have had to been a large loan of a few hundred thousand; something under $100,000 would be possible.  He was retiring and might very well have been demanding repayment to get his retirement funds in place.  The borrower might have gotten into an argument over payment and killed Mr. Gricar. That is the other possibility.

            Likewise, Mr. Gricar might have been shielding assets, but for a reason unrelated to his disappearance.  While it is unlikely for him to be successfully sued as a result of his official conduct, he might have been worried about a suit in his private life.  He might have been thinking about protecting the assets for his daughter.

            Another possibility is that Mr. Gricar wasn’t sheltering any hidden assets because of a suit.  He might have put the Mini Cooper in Ms. Fornicola’s name as kind of an insurance policy for her.  Mr. Gricar was 58 years old when he purchased the car.  It is an age when many men, even if healthy, worry about health, something like a sudden coronary.  He had his bank accounts held jointly with his daughter Lara; she would have access to them if something happened.  Because it was joint ownership, she would also get a tax savings in the event that Mr. Gricar would die.  Likewise, if Mr. Gricar had had a fatal heart attack on 4/01/05, Ms. Fornicola still would have owned the Mini outright; it would have been her asset.

            Traveling down this road, I’d be looking in the rear view mirror.  I’d look at Mr. Gricar’s finances from 1997, the first full year that his office went full time (and he was grossing more $100,000 per year), and his divorce settlement.  The police did look at the 2 ½ years prior,2 but a longer period of time is needed.  Even if something is found, it might not be conclusive, but it might be.

            I will be concluding this series in my next post (unless there some breaking news).

End Notes


1 CDT , 5/3/06 http://www.centredaily.com/2006/05/13/3802/missed-leads.html#ixzz0jcVZSzwR


2 PPG , 8/17/05 http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05229/555106-85.stm


E-mail J. J. in Phila at scorg@live.com