|By David Hanners, Pioneer Press, St.
Paul, Minn.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
September. 17, 2008 --A Denver man in the Twin Cities for the GOP national convention -- and who told police that a woman drugged him and took several thousand dollars' worth of valuables from his hotel room -- now says Minneapolis police are inflating the value of the stolen goods.
The man, convention delegate Gabriel Nathan Schwartz, said in a written statement Tuesday that the items taken had a value of about $50,000, "not the inflated number that the media is reporting from an inaccurate police report."
But Minneapolis police said their original estimate that the cash and items were worth about $120,000 came from Schwartz himself.
"It comes from him," Minneapolis Police spokesman Sgt. William Palmer said of the higher figure. "We didn't make that up."
Among the items Schwartz reported stolen to police were a $30,000 watch, a $20,000 ring, a $5,000 necklace, $4,000 earrings, a $1,500 cell phone, a $1,000 wallet or purse and a $1,000 black Prada belt. Some cash, other jewelry, clothes and other items were taken, he reported.
Palmer said investigators have asked Schwartz to document the value of the items he reported stolen. He said he couldn't explain the discrepancy between the figures Schwartz initially reported and what he now claims. "I think he (Schwartz) is going to have to speak to that," he said.
For his part, Schwartz, a 29-year-old single lawyer from Denver, declined comment beyond a three-paragraph statement he issued Tuesday morning. In it, he
said he used "poor judgment." He also said comments he made in "a silly interview" in which he advocated bombing Iran were a joke.
When contacted by the Pioneer Press on Monday, Schwartz declined comment on the case, saying it was under police investigation. He released his statement Tuesday morning.
"It's embarrassing to admit that I was a target of a crime," he wrote of the incident, which occurred at Minneapolis' tony Hotel Ivy during early on Sept. 4, while he was in the Twin Cities to attend the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.
"As a single man, I was flattered by the attention of a beautiful woman who introduced herself to me," his statement said. "I used poor judgment. If there is any good that can come from this humiliation, it is to caution others that date rape happens to men, too."
Police have said they are investigating the incident as a theft, not a sex crime.
'They Got Lucky' / Schwartz told police that he had met the woman in a bar, then invited her up to his room. He reported that the woman fixed drinks and told him to get undressed, and that was the last thing he remembered before waking up later and discovering his belongings were gone.
Palmer said criminalists are examining some physical evidence, but he declined to say what it was. He also said that while Schwartz provided police with a detailed description of the woman, they weren't releasing it to the public yet other than to say the woman appeared to be in her 20s.
"We think the suspect targeted Mr. Schwartz because of the amount of money he appeared to have, the very expensive clothing he was wearing," Palmer said. "We have no indication this was prostitution-related at all. If this was someone targeting people of Mr. Schwartz's income level, they got lucky."
Palmer described it as "a sophisticated M.O., not something we see here in the Twin Cities."
Schwartz was a member of the Colorado delegation to the GOP convention, held Sept. 1-4 at St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center. On the day before Schwartz and the other delegates voted to make Sen. John McCain of Arizona the party's presidential candidate, Schwartz was interviewed by John Hamilton, a producer for Link TV, a nationwide television channel available on DirecTV and the DISH Network.
Among other things, Schwartz said in the interview that his vision of a McCain presidency was "Less taxes and more war," and that the U.S. should "bomb the hell" out of Iran because it threatens Israel.
In his written statement, Schwartz said the interview was a joke on a "little-known Internet outlet."
"When joking around with its so-called reporters, I thought the interview was a satire and didn't take it seriously," he wrote. "The interview is a farce and does not accurately express my political views. I endorse the platform of the Republican National Committee."
Hamilton said Tuesday that he considered it a "serious, newsy interview" and that the delegate gave no indication he was joking.
"If Mr. Schwartz wants to joke, that's his prerogative," said Hamilton. "But I don't think the right time to do it is while serving as a delegate on the floor of the RNC. Certainly, he had an off-the-cuff attitude about the interview, but the interview was on the camera, on the record and on the floor of the Xcel Center."
David Hanners can be reached at 612-338-6516.
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