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Search Leads to Body of Ex-N.J. GOP Chief

September 25, 1997|JOHN J. GOLDMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK — After a weeklong search, the body of Nelson G. Gross, a former chairman of the New Jersey Republican Party and a key fund-raiser for President Nixon, was found Wednesday in a heavily wooded area in Manhattan near the Hudson River.

Police said it appeared he was stabbed to death as part of a robbery, and three suspects were taken into custody.

New York City Police Commissioner Howard Safir told a news conference that the body was discovered by narcotics detectives in upper Manhattan after receiving information during an intensive investigation, which is continuing.

Federal prosecutors in New Jersey received court permission to seal the complaint against the three suspects, believed to be teenagers.

Safir and top law enforcement officials from New Jersey who appeared with the commissioner at police headquarters in Manhattan said it appeared Gross was not abducted in a kidnapping plot.

They also stressed that Gross' son, Neil, had nothing to do with the crime. Some published reports said that he had been the subject of scrutiny in the case.

The 65-year-old millionaire was seen a week ago driving from the parking lot of a floating restaurant owned by his family in Edgewater, N.J., directly across the Hudson from Manhattan.

He disappeared shortly after withdrawing $20,000 from an Edgewater bank in the company of two men.

Gross was a key fund-raiser for Nixon during the 1968 presidential campaign, and was named by Nixon as special assistant secretary of State charged with combating international drug trafficking.

In 1972, he was appointed head of a special U.S. delegation to the United Nations on drug matters.

But two years later, he was convicted of tax fraud for advising a client to list a $5,000 political donation as a tax-deductible expense.

He invested in real estate after serving six months in prison. Gross' wife, Noel, is the head of the New Jersey Racing Commission, which regulates horse racing in the state.

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