Missing Investment Broker Sent Letter To His Mother

CLEVELAND (AP) - A missing investment broker suspected of stealing millions of dollars from clients has sent a two-page handwritten letter to his mother, a newspaper reported Monday.

Frank Gruttadauria said in the letter his mother received Thursday that he wants to apologize "for the shame and hell I have put you through."

Gruttadauria's mother, Elvera Gruttadauria, allowed her lawyer to read portions of the letter to a reporter for The Plain Dealer on Sunday. She has identified the handwriting as her son's.

"I don't know how to live as a fugitive," the letter concluded. "I'm really terrified, but please remember me as a happy young boy."

Elvera Gruttadauria asked The Plain Dealer to print a message to her son in hopes of arranging his surrender to the FBI. She last spoke directly to her son on Jan. 11, the day he disappeared.

Lawyer Carl F. Gillombardo Jr. turned the letter over to FBI special agent Joseph Persichini Jr. on Friday.

Gillombardo declined to tell The Plain Dealer the location of letter's postmark. He said the family does not know Gruttadauria's whereabouts.

In the undated letter, Frank Gruttadauria wrote: "I tried to face it by going to the FBI today but sadly I lost that glimpse of courage."

Gillombardo said Gruttadauria's mother and two sisters are worried that the letter "might be a suicide note."

Authorities are searching for the 44-year-old suburban Gates Mills man suspected of stealing as much as $300 million from clients. They are also investigating how Gruttadauria, the manager of a Cleveland office of Lehman Brothers, carried out the elaborate scam.

In hopes of persuading Gruttadauria to surrender, his family asked The Plain Dealer to print a coded message that only he will understand: "Please contact 'Furnose' with a time to meet at Chic's."

Gillombardo said he and the family were "hoping he will see this article and contact us immediately so we can arrange his surrender."

They believe that Gruttadauria is more likely to turn himself in if he knows that a "friendly face" will be present, according to Gillombardo.

Gruttadauria's mother, a local real estate agent, said in a statement Sunday that she and her daughters were keeping a vigil for his safe surrender.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)