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But in August 2002, Magnum showed up on the evening news, waving the tapestry and declaring he had recovered it after it had been stolen from behind his bed two years earlier. He claimed the tapestry, which he called The Rape of Europa, had been made for a Spanish king 800 years ago and was worth $800,000. He said he had purchased it from a Russian army general.
Miami-Dade Police arrested two men, who were never identified to the media, in a sting when they tried to sell it back to Magnum.
The Alvarezes called the authorities after seeing the alleged con man on television. Cops launched an investigation, but it's unclear what the department eventually discovered. Magnum was never charged with stealing the tapestry, and questioned by New Times, Miami-Dade Police had no answers regarding what became of the seven-year-old case. The Alvarezes have since moved and could not be located.
Within a year, though, Magnum would be in police custody — for allegedly kidnapping his estranged wife.
Magnum had married a woman named Isabel, his third wife, in 2000, and adopted a baby with her. He had already been hit with a domestic violence injunction by a former girlfriend, and he was also abusive toward Isabel, she claimed in court. Magnum beat her regularly, threatened her life, and conned her out of proceeds she made selling her house, investing the money in his pharmacy. "He would tell me not to leave the room unless I got permission from him," Isabel recounted. "He broke glasses on top of my head with a gun, pointed two guns to my head, threw me against walls — you name it. Spit in my face. Threatened my kid. So I had to wait for the right moment to get away from him."
By 2003, Isabel finally found the courage to leave him. But on March 31 that year, Magnum phoned and begged to meet her again, blaming his erratic behavior on diabetes, Isabel claimed in court.
Carrying their baby, she met him at a Pembroke Pines gas station. He forced mother and child into a white pickup truck and took them on a harrowing 50-mile trip to his burned-out farmhouse, Isabel said. He vowed to kill her. "I already told you plenty of times that nobody leaves Paul Magnum," Isabel testified that he told her. "You are going to see what happens now."
Just as they were pulling onto Magnum's property, she escaped with her baby and sprinted to a neighboring house. A man inside called the cops and Magnum was arrested. He was charged with kidnapping, battery, and two counts of false imprisonment.
Magnum claimed his wife set him up and fabricated the tale in order to win custody of their adopted child.
A Miami-Dade jury found there wasn't enough evidence to support Isabel's claim. Magnum was convicted only of misdemeanor battery — her face was covered in scratches from a struggle — and given a suspended sentence.
Isabel, who divorced Magnum and got custody of the child, changed her identity for fear of reprisal. In 2005, she wrote a judge to plead for a lifetime restraining order against her ex-husband. "Paul is waiting only for everyone's guard to be down so that he can come in and complete his sick promise of killing us," Isabel insisted.
In April 2006, Magnum found himself in his most serious trouble yet. He was arrested on charges of using his pharmacy — which he had abandoned two years earlier — to defraud the state out of $244,000 in Medicaid money. Then-Attorney General Charlie Crist, whose Medicaid Fraud Control Unit busted Magnum, claimed the pharmacy owner had forged hundreds of prescriptions to nonexistent patients in order to bill the state for pills. "A pharmacy license is not a license to steal," Crist declared.
Financially, Magnum was devastated. The Dolphin was foreclosed upon, and he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2007. Cops confiscated Magnum's 2004 purple-and-red Hummer, claiming it was bought with proceeds from the scam.
If convicted of organized fraud and first-degree grand theft, he faces up to 60 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Magnum was expected to plead guilty to the charges at 9 a.m. July 30 — but then he had his supposed brush with the bogus cops. His plea has been postponed until September 9.
There's reason to believe Magnum was desperate for more time as a free man: He'd already filed for nine continuances in the case.
Magnum was rolled out of Jackson Memorial the afternoon following the shooting, wheelchair-bound and with his right arm in a sling, but still displaying good spirits. Dressed shabbily in blue jeans, a T-shirt, and old white sneakers, he told TV reporters the timing of his mugging was a "bad coincidence" and threatened anybody who might suggest he had fabricated the whole thing: "Tell me who said that and I'll kick them in the ass. That's idiotic, but shit happens, and it happens for a reason, and I believe in God now."
Miami-Dade Police spokesperson Det. Aida Fina-Milian says the department is still considering Magnum's mugging an open robbery investigation; cops are still on the prowl for the dreadlocked muggers.