O'kicki's Trail Leads To Slovenia The Fugitive Ex-judge Bought Plane Tickets There. He Shipped His Car To Europe, As Well.

Posted: March 24, 1993

The paper trail in the case of Joseph O'Kicki has led investigators to O'Kicki's ancestral homeland of Slovenia, part of the former Yugoslavia, where they say the former judge may have fled to avoid serving time on corruption charges.

"We feel confident he's in Slovenia," Cambria County Sheriff Jay Roberts said yesterday.

Investigators had speculated earlier that when O'Kicki failed to appear March 8 in court in Easton in preparation for serving his two- to five-year sentence, he may have fled overseas. But they had no evidence.

Now, Roberts said, they have traced airline tickets that O'Kicki purchased March 1 in State College to fly March 2 from Toronto to Munich and from Munich to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia.

"We can confirm that someone used those tickets," Roberts said. "We can't say it was him on the plane, but he was the person who purchased those tickets on March 1st."

In addition, Roberts said O'Kicki shipped his car - a 1984 red Pontiac Sunbird - to Bremerhaven, Germany, from Baltimore on Nov. 10.

State investigators, O'Kicki's attorney and Judge Richard Grifo, who presided at O'Kicki's corruption trial in 1989, have scheduled a conference call for this morning to discuss their next step. Lawrence Claus, senior deputy state attorney general, has said that extradition from Slovenia could prove difficult if not impossible.

O'Kicki's attorney, James Yelovich, said he had no indication that his client had fled the country. He said O'Kicki had last called him March 5, when he said he was in a hospital but wouldn't say where.

Sheriff Roberts theorized that O'Kicki, 62, who has had cancer and heart problems, could well be in a hospital - in Slovenia.

"He may not have lied," Roberts said. "He said he was in a medical facility. His wife is studying at a medical facility in Slovenia. This was a play on words, a technicality, just the sort of thing he loves."

Yelovich, O'Kicki's lawyer, said O'Kicki "could be" in a hospital in Slovenia, "but I didn't make that assumption."

Meanwhile, the Cambria County tax office received payment Monday of $916.61 in taxes on O'Kicki's house in Richland Township, near Johnstown.

The payment was postmarked March 19 from Johnstown but contained correspondence from the fugitive's wife, Sylvia, who has changed her last name

from O'Kicki to Onusic and recently filed for divorce.

Late last month, purchases were made with O'Kicki's credit card in Buffalo and Connecticut. Investigators said at the time that these purchases could have been a plant by O'Kicki to make it seem he was still in the country.

Said Sheriff Roberts: "The paper chase goes on."

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