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Was jailed financier in love or on the lam?

Giacchetto held after flight

NEW YORK — In the latest performance that seems better suited for a character in “The Sopranos” than the former handler of funds for some of the biggest names in Hollywood, Dana Giacchetto was thrown in jail Wednesday after he flew to Las Vegas with $44,000 in first-class airline tickets, an altered passport and $4,000 in cash.

Given the latest development, the big question in Hollywood was whether Giacchetto had gone to Las Vegas with plans to hop a flight out of the country to avoid federal criminal prosecution and SEC civil charges of misappropriating at least $6 million in client funds, or whether he simply sought the exotic exteriors of Rome to propose marriage to his girlfriend, as his attorney maintained.

A federal magistrate was concerned enough about the latest incident to revoke the bail terms set last week, which included restricted travel that would have allowed Giacchetto to continue to serve his star pals in an unspecified agenting capacity.

Unless Giacchetto’s attorney appeals or finds another way to make bail, the former high-flying money manager who hobnobbed with the likes of Alanis Morissette, Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon could remain incarcerated in New York City until his trial, which is tentatively scheduled for April 26.

The judge ordered the incarceration after Assistant U.S. Attorney David Lewis said “there are no conditions that would ensure his return,” and called the 37-year-old’s latest conduct “absolutely extraordinary.”

After the feds arrested Giacchetto on his return to Newark Airport, N.J., his attorney Andrew Levander said Giacchetto’s motive was romance.

“He wanted to propose to his girlfriend and he thought Rome would be a great place,” said Levander, who called the jailing of his client “draconian.” Giacchetto hoped he might be made to wear an electronic bracelet, but U.S. magistrate James Francis ruled otherwise, noting that Giacchetto’s possession of $4,000 in small bills was “behavior not consistent with a business trip.”

While the contents of Giacchetto’s travel bag was still being catalogued, the contents were not encouraging. For instance, there were 80 unused airline tickets.

Giacchetto was apparently detected because he charged on his American Express card a ticket on United Airlines that allowed for seven-city travel from New York to Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Tokyo, Singapore and Frankfurt. Shortly after, he used a Diners Club card to charge two tickets to Rome.

Also curious was the passport. Giacchetto had surrendered his actual passport when bail was set last week, but held an old one with a page altered to indicate it was good until October 2002. Giacchetto’s attorney argued that his client was only using the document for identification needed to board an airplane, since he did not have a driver’s license.

After being charged on various fraud counts last week, he was released on $1 million bail posted by his parents, who put up their home as collateral. Prosecutors could have pressed to forfeit bail, which could have drastically impacted Giacchetto’s parents, but didn’t.

(Reuters contributed to this report.)

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