BOSTON (AP) _ Craig Spence, a high-profile lobbyist linked to a Washington sex scandal under federal investigation, was found dead after barricading himself in a hotel room, police said Saturday.
Spence, 49, was found dead Friday in his room at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel after firefighters used a saw to cut the door in half.
Spence had apparently barricaded the door with a bed. He was found fully clothed and there were no visible signs of injuries.
Suffolk County Medical Examiner Leonard Atkins said Saturday an autopsy had been completed but the cause of death was still under investigation. He said it could be weeks before his office issues a cause of death.
The Washington Times reported in August that Spence disclosed he had AIDS and had threatened to commit suicide rather than die of the disease.
Spence checked into the Ritz-Carlton on Nov. 4 under an alias, according to Patricia Cutler, the hotel’s director of public relations.
Spence was identified this summer by the Times as a major client of a homosexual escort service being investigated by the Secret Service, the District of Columbia police and the U.S. attorney’s office for possible credit card fraud. Other clients of the call-boy ring included minor officials of the Reagan and Bush administrations, the Times said.
The newspaper said Spence spent as much as $20,000 a month on the escort service and quoted unidentified male prostitutes and others as saying Spence had his house bugged.
Judy Smith, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Jay Stephens in Washington, said there would be no comment on Spence’s death or its impact on the investigation.
Spence faced new problems July 31 when he was arrested at a New York City motel on a felony weapons charge and misdemeanor possession of crack.
Spence also has been linked to a White House guard who has said he accepted an expensive watch from Spence and gave him a piece of presidential china. The guard also reportedly allowed Spence and some friends to take midnight tours of White House public areas last year.
The Secret Service has said the tours were unauthorized, but not a security breach.
A former television news correspondent for ABC who reported from Vietnam, Spence later became a lobbyist representing Japanese clients.
During the early years of the Reagan administration, in particular, Spence cultivated top political appointees, leading academics, military officials, journalists and members of Congress, often entertaining them with star-studded parties.
The Times said frequent party guests at his home included former CIA Director William Casey, conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly and James Lilley, ambassador to China and formerly to Korea.
″I had the world at my house and now they don’t know who I am,″ Spence told the newspaper in an interview earlier this year.
According to records he filed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, Spence received $110,000 in a five-month period in 1981 from the Policy Study Group of Tokyo, a non-profit group financed by Japanese business interests and affiliated with a faction of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
Robert Neumann, who was once ambassador to Saudi Arabia and several other countries, remembered Spence on Saturday as ″a nice, somewhat erratic person.″
Spence once arranged for Neumann and his wife to travel on an expenses-paid trip to Japan.
″He invited me to a number of parties, all of which were to enhance his business, but that was normal,″ Neumann said. ″He always behaved in an immaculate fashion. Personally, I have only kind memories of him.″
Spence ceased working as a lobbyist for Japanese interests in late 1987, documents show.