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Aruba keeps Giordano detained

Gaithersburg man likely to be charged in woman’s disappearance

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 31, 2011

An Aruban judge on Wednesday ordered a Gaithersburg man suspected in the disappearance of a travel companion detained for an additional 60 days, according to prosecutors.

Gary Giordano, 50, has been detained since Aug. 5 on suspicion that he was involved in the disappearance and presumed death of Robyn Gardner, 35, of Frederick, Md.

Mr. Giordano has not been charged with a crime.

Aruban Solicitor General Taco Stein said he expects the prosecutor's office to file charges against Mr. Giordano at the end of the 60-day period. Mr. Stein could not say Wednesday what those charges might be.

"The investigation is just continuing at this moment," Mr. Stein told The Washington Times. "We're not dwelling on it at this moment."

The judge's decision was not issued publicly, but Mr. Stein's office released a statement about the hearing's outcome.

Ms. Gardner 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.

The conditions of Mr. Giordano's detention, which previously left him isolated, were changed Wednesday, Mr. Stein said.

"He is now allowed to have contact with family and lawyers," he said.

Mr. Giordano's Aruba-based attorney, Michael Lopez, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Ms. Gardner's family issued a statement Wednesday afternoon asking anyone with further information about her to come forward.

"We have faith and confidence in the Aruban Authorities and FBI, and know that they will fervently continue their efforts to find Robyn," said Ms. Gardner's mother, Andrea Colson.

"We pray that anyone who knows what happened that day will find the strength to contact authorities immediately. And we continue to ask everyone to keep praying for our Robyn so that she will be found soon."

The statement was released through the Natalee Holloway Resource Center, which provides outreach assistance to families of missing people. The center bears the name of an Alabama teenager who disappeared during a trip to Aruba in 2005.

Searches in Aruba have proved fruitless in turning up any sign of Ms. Gardner, though the last known photos taken of her show her leaving a restaurant in the company of Mr. Giordano just hours before he returned to the same restaurant to report her missing.

ABC News reported Wednesday that witnesses said Ms. Gardner appeared drunk and woozy when she was last seen and that Mr. Giordano had scratches on his neck when he first sought help looking for Ms. Gardner.

According to court records, Mr. Giordano claimed to have been in financial distress several months before the two traveled to Aruba together, and he had sought to reduce child support payments for his three sons.

In 2010, Mr. Giordano, who runs the temporary staffing business Leverage LLC out of his home, filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit on behalf of his company against another staffing company, claiming he was owed money for placing an employee.

The defendant company in the case contended in court papers that Mr. Giordano forged a signature to fraudulently produce the contract over which he later filed suit. Mr. Giordano dropped the lawsuit as it commenced to trial in March.

Suspicions were raised about whether there could be a financial motive to Ms. Gardner's disappearance after it came to light that Mr. Giordano sought to collect on a $1.5 million insurance policy taken out on Ms. Gardner before the two left on the trip.

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