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Man jailed in divorce free after 14 yrs.

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Philadelphia Daily News

benderw@phillynews.com 215-854-5255

H. Beatty Chadwick is either the most hardheaded lawyer in America or a poor sap who lost 14 years of his life to a money-grubbing ex-wife and cold-hearted judges.

Either way, at 3:08 p.m. yesterday the Main Line attorney who had been imprisoned since 1995 on a contempt charge walked out of the George W. Hill Correctional Facility a free man.

Chadwick, 73, who is believed to have set a U.S. record for time served in a civil-contempt case, was jailed during divorce proceedings for allegedly stashing $2.5 million in overseas accounts - out of the reach of his wife and her lawyers.

While fighting non-Hodgkins lymphoma in prison, he has steadfastly maintained that he lost the cash in a bad investment. Judges repeatedly denied his request to be freed, until yesterday, when Delaware County President Judge Joseph Cronin approved his release.

"He's not bitter, he's happy to be out," said Chadwick's attorney, Michael Malloy. "He's a very low-key, even tempered guy."

"I've never seen him lose his temper. I've never seem him upset."

Chadwick's plans were to go home to be with his son, Malloy said.

Many still believe that Chadwick - reportedly a control freak who would ration his spouse's toilet-paper usage and designate specific times for sex - is a stubborn liar who still has the money.

"This guy is so off-the-wall that he's never going to change his mind," said Albert Momjian, attorney for Barbara Applegate, Chadwick's ex-wife. "If he doesn't have access to the money, how does he pay all these lawyers?"

About 35 prison staffers gathered yesterday - some crying and hugging Chadwick - to say goodbye to the "model inmate" who had worked in the law library and forged friendships with everyone from guards to senior administrators, said prison Superintendent John Reilly.

"He's done more time than maybe the majority of people convicted of homicide do," said Reilly, a former prosecutor. "What person in his right mind is going to flaunt the authority of the court and say, 'I'm going to spend the rest of my life in jail?' People just aren't made that way."

Yet, Reilly concedes, he and most other observers simply don't know whether Chadwick is still hiding his fortune.

"To me, he's an enigma," he said. "I can't get a read on the guy." *



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