Police Probe Removal Of Furniture, Paintings From Alleged Marcos Home
LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) _ A pre-Revolutionary War mansion believed to be owned by deposed Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos has been emptied of most of its furnishings, law enforcement authorities said Wednesday.
The 13.5-acre Lawrence Township estate reportedly occupied by Marcos’ daughter, Imee, when she attended Princeton University has been under a judge’s order since March, forbidding its sale until he can determine whether it was purchased with money Marcos allegedly stole from his country.
Mercer County Sheriff Gilbert W. Lugossy said it was too early in the investigation to conclude whether the Georgian-style home had been burglarized or whether Marcos representatives had removed furniture, paintings and other items.
″I don’t think it’s a break-in. I think someone had keys. It looked like they knew what they were doing,″ said Paul Zarodnansky, the sheriff’s officer who discovered a man and his family on the property Tuesday afternoon, the house nearly empty and a rear door open.
Zarodnansky said the man, Orlando C. Dulay of New York, was hauling bags of trash out of a garage next to the mansion. The sheriff’s officer said Dulay told him he was hired by Marcos’ attorneys to clean the apartment above the garage, where a caretaker had lived.
″I really don’t know what happened,″ said Dulay, who was questioned by police and sheriff’s officers Wednesday.
Dulay offered the names and telephone numbers of two men he identified as Marcos’ attorneys. He said he was cleaning out the garage as a favor to them.
″They are not attorneys,″ said Lawrence Township Detective Jerry Gorski. ″We are suspicious. We are investigating his (Dulay’s) background and why he’s here.″
Police Capt. Nicholas Loveless said authorities were trying to determine if the man is the same Orlando Dulay who was a high-ranking military officer wanted in the Philippines for escaping from detention.
According to news accounts in Manila, Dulay is a retired constabulary officer and governor of Quirino Province charged with trying to manipulate the last presidential election in the Philippines, said Capt. Carlos Agustin, defense attache at the Philippines Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Dulay, a strong Marcos supporter, is wanted for escaping from detention in his homeland earlier this year and is believed to be in the United States, Agustin said.
″I do not have any information that this is the same man,″ he said.
Agustin and Loveless said authorities in this country have no power to arrest Dulay since the United States and the Philippines have no extradition agreement.
It was impossible to say exactly what was missing from the house, said Lugossy. An inventory of the two-story mansion’s contents, ordered by Superior Court Judge Paul G. Levy, had not be taken since no one answered the door when sheriff’s officers visited the property periodically, said the sheriff.
Lugossy, who had peered through the windows last spring, said he recalls seeing sofas, upholstered chairs, lamps and paintings. Those furnishings were not there Wednesday when sheriff’s officers, police and representatives of Philippines President Corazon C. Aquino toured the home, he said.
″The building is much more empty,″ said Lugossy, holding a sheriff’s office inventory handwritten on blue stationery embossed with Marcos’ daughter’s name that was found inside.
He added that there were depressions in carpeting indicating furniture had been taken and picture hangers, but no pictures, on the walls.
″It’s very bare and we can draw no further conclusion,″ said Jeffrey Greenbaum, an attorney hired to represent the Aquino government.
Mrs. Aquino’s representatives have charged that Marcos and his wife, Imelda, looted their country’s treasury during his 20-year reign and acquired through intermediaries vast, secret holdings in the United States. The Aquino government is seeking recovery of the property.
In March, Levy issued a preliminary injunction blocking any change in the status of the wooded estate on Princeton Pike, which had been offered for sale last September for $825,000.
The home has six bedrooms, five full bathrooms, two half-baths, a large eat-in kitchen, double living room with two fireplaces and a dining room with a fireplace and double French doors leading to a brick patio. It is believed to have been built in 1720.
The judge also issued injunctions blocking the sale of a Cherry Hill property allegedly used by Marcos’ son, Ferdinand Jr., while he attended the University of Pennsylvania. Levy also froze several bank accounts linked to Marcos and his associates.