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Fugitive Millionaire Nabbed After 23 Years on Lam

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

George Norman lived under a half-dozen aliases, even assuming the identity of his wife’s dead grandfather, during nearly a quarter-century on the run--making millions and always staying one step ahead of the law.

The swindler was finally captured last month as he left a motel for dinner with his wife, Donna. Stuffing hundred-dollar bills in his pockets, a gold Rolex on his wrist, the tanned, silver-haired, 66-year-old fugitive walked into the arms of two U.S. marshals who had just pulled into the parking lot.

“It was easy as that,” said Doug Wiggs, chief deputy U.S. marshal in Knoxville. “If we had been there five minutes earlier or five minutes later. . . .”

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Norman had been on the run since March 13, 1973, when he drove away from Denver in a borrowed car and skipped out on a two-year sentence for embezzling more than $500,000 from the now-defunct Rocky Mountain Bank.

Authorities say he amassed $50 million during his years on the lam, all of it by what authorities believe to be legal means, such as dabbling in oil in Houston and starting computer software firms in Oregon and Utah.

His lawyer, John Eldridge, said Norman’s worth is nowhere near $50 million. He said his client is a born-again Christian who is relieved his long run is over.

“If one can feel good about being arrested, I know he feels good that this is going to be behind him,” Eldridge said.

Over the years, investigators followed Norman to California, Rhode Island, Florida, Texas, Utah, Oregon and Georgia. Always a week, a month, a year after he’d gone.

The file they built is filled with photos of him in black tie and moving in the moneyed class. They knew he was once a regular at La Costa Country Club near San Diego and belonged to a national tennis club organization.

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“It seemed like everywhere he’d reside, he somehow got hooked up with some pretty posh country club,” said Bobby Lloyd, deputy U.S. marshal in Denver. “He was pretty slick.”

He used several aliases--James Paul Hill, George Larson, Max Morris, George Irving, Frick Jensen, Gunnar Isoz and J. Blankman. He called himself Dr. James Hill in Tampa, Fla., though he didn’t try to practice medicine.

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It was near Tampa, in Bradenton, Fla., that federal authorities warned Donna Norman and her parents in 1984, before she married him, that Norman was a fugitive.

Norman and his 36-year-old wife, who has not been charged, had come to Knoxville for service on their luxury green-and-white Monaco motor home.

The recreational vehicle is “one step down from a rock ‘n’ roll tour bus,” Wiggs said. Behind it, they towed a green, late-model Lincoln Continental.

The license plates on the motor home were from Oregon; the car’s from Ohio. The vehicles were registered under Tom and Lin Dangelis, the names of Donna Norman’s deceased grandparents--an alias they reportedly used along with the Dangelis’ Social Security numbers.

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The Normans, who had become increasingly mobile in the last few months, had only been in Knoxville two days and planned to leave the next day when he was captured Nov. 21.

Norman, who has refused interview requests, is being held without bond pending his return to Denver, which is expected in about a week. Authorities haven’t yet determined what charges he might face.

“A guy with this amount of money, why he didn’t just leave the country, I don’t know,” Lloyd said.

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