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Long IslandCrime

Cops: Detectives quickly learned of Parente financial woes

Hours after finding victims of a brutal murder-suicide in a suburban Maryland hotel room, a Baltimore County police detective opened William Parente's cell phone and began dialing numbers.

Police were looking for next of kin, but some contacted by the detective also volunteered a possible motive: "questionable financial dealings" by Parente, 59, of Garden City, a tax and estate attorney who ran an investment business on the side, Baltimore County Police Cpl. Michael Hill said Thursday.

Another law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Thursday that the detective reached "some people seeking their money back."

Hill said: "These were not family members. These were clients, acquaintances or otherwise."

Authorities say Parente beat and asphyxiated his wife, Betty, 58, and then his two daughters, Catherine, 11, and Stephanie, 19, on Sunday night while on a trip to Towson, Md., to visit the older daughter at Loyola College in Maryland. Parente laid his dead family together on the king-size bed in a room at the Sheraton Hotel before cutting himself and bleeding to death on the bathroom floor, police said.

Friday, the Baltimore Sun reported that sometime after checking into the hotel, Parente bought the knife he used to kill himself from a mall across the street.

Baltimore County detectives found a Crate & Barrel store receipt for the knife among Parente's belongings after his body was discovered Monday, Cpl. Michael Hill said Thursday, according to the Sun.

Parente left no note and police have not announced a motive. But federal authorities have zeroed in recently on pressure Parente may have been under from investors in a discrete loan brokerage that he had run for the last 20 years.

FBI agents may search the Manhattan attorney's Lexington Avenue office soon, the official said.

Two associates of Parente, who spoke on condition of anonymity, estimated Thursday that friends and clients had invested at least $20 million with Parente. The money, they said, was for making bridge loans to construction projects and other commercial ventures.

This week, checks to numerous investors that Parente issued began bouncing, the associates said.

The law enforcement official said there appeared to be a relatively small circle of investors, though the number could grow as the probe goes on.

FBI spokesman James Margolin said the precise worth of Parente's business remained unknown Thursday. He encouraged anyone who felt they had been victimized to call the FBI's Manhattan field office at 212-384-5000.

The New York State attorney general's office is also investigating a complaint from Bayside lawyer Bruce Montague, who said he invested nearly $450,000 with Parente. Montague has said he deposited two checks for $245,000 from Parente last week, only to have them bounce on Tuesday.

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