- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Gaithersburg man being held in Aruba in connection with the disappearance of his traveling companion had been having financial difficulties in the months before he vacationed on the Caribbean island, according to court documents.

Gary Giordano, 50, had asked a judge in January to lower his child support payments, citing recent financial distress, and had filed and later dropped an $11.5 million lawsuit against a company based on what the company contended were forged documents.

Suspicions were raised last week about whether there was a financial motive for the disappearance of Mr. Giordano’s travel companion, Robyn Gardner, after news reports surfaced that Mr. Giordano had taken out a $1.5 million accidental-death insurance policy and tried to collect on the policy two days after she went missing.

Ms. Gardner, of Frederick, Md., left on a trip to the Caribbean island with Mr. Giordano on July 31. The two were supposed to return stateside Aug. 5. However Mr. Giordano reported Ms. Gardner missing Aug. 2, claiming she was swept out to sea while the two were snorkeling.

Aruba Solicitor General Taco Stein told the Associated Press that investigators were looking into whether there was anything unusual about the insurance policy.

Court documents filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court and obtained by The Washington Times show that despite maintaining a million-dollar home, the twice-divorced father of three sons this year petitioned a family court judge to lower the amount he paid monthly to support his children.

A January filing says that when his child support was set in 2009, Mr. Giordano’s monthly income in 2009 was $4,827 — or about $58,000 annually. At that time, he was paying $616 per month.

“Since that order, there has been a material change in circumstances,” the court filing says.

It asks a judge to reconsider the child-support amount Mr. Giordano paid based on 2010 financial records that indicated his earnings were “significantly lower than the figure used for calculating support at the last hearing.”

The request was dismissed.

Reached by telephone, Mr. Giordano’s ex-wife declined to comment on the case.

Lawyer Steven Kupferberg, who has previously represented Mr. Giordano and spoken on his behalf since he was detained in Aruba, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Court records also indicate Mr. Giordano, who runs the temporary staffing business Leverage LLC out of his home, filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit on behalf of his company in January 2010 against another staffing company, claiming he was owed money for placing an employee at federal home mortgage lender Freddie Mac in 2007.

But the defendant company in the case contended that Mr. Giordano forged a signature to fraudulently produce the contract that he later sued the company over.

An executive with the defendant company said in court papers that Mr. Giordano’s girlfriend at the time — who was also a friend of the executive’s wife — had told him that “Gary asked her if she could get a copy of my signature.”

Thomas Murphy, the lawyer who represented the Virginia staffing company that Mr. Giordano sued, said he was shocked at the audacity of the lawsuit.

“I’ve been a lawyer for 37 years, and I’ve never seen anyone who had the gall to create, prepare and forge such a document,” he said. “This guy is living large in a big house and has a big mortgage and a nice car, but claims in filings that he is basically broke.”

The case proceeded to trial this year, but Mr. Giordano dropped it March 24, according to court records. It was the same day the woman involved in the case was scheduled to testify, Mr. Murphy said.

By that time, she and Mr. Giordano had split and she had filed a protective order against him in February 2010 charging that he videotaped them having sex and posted the images on the Internet, according to court records.

A motion filed on behalf of Leverage that had tried to prevent the woman from testifying as a witness in the case was denied.

Searches in Aruba have proved fruitless in turning up any sign of Ms. Gardner. Authorities have held Mr. Giordano in custody since Aug. 5 on suspicion of involvement with her disappearance after beginning to doubt his account of events.

He will remain in custody under a judge’s order until the end of August, at which point prosecutors could ask to hold him for another 60 days while they prepare a case.

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