Casolaro's phone records indicate he spent many hours in conversation with Riconosciuto, and Casolaro's friends say that for several months in late 1990, Casolaro talked of little else.
The 44-year-old Riconosciuto is -- to put it mildly -- a colorful character, wilder than anything in "The Falcon and the Snowman." He was a gifted child: When he was just 10 years old, Michael wired his parents' neighborhood with a working private telephone system that undercut Ma Bell; in the eighth grade, he won a science fair with a model for a three-dimensional sonar system. By the time he was a teenager, he had won so many science fairs with exhibits of laser technology that he was invited to be a summer research assistant at Stanford's prestigious Cooper Vapor Laser Laboratory. Dr. Arthur Schalow, a Nobel laureate, remembers him even now. "You don't forget a 16-year-old youngster who shows up with his own argon laser," he told Casolaro.
In 1973, Riconosciuto had been sentenced by a federal judge in Seattle to two years in prison for the manufacture of psychedelic drugs and jumping bail. At the time, his father testified that Michael was engaged in "underwater research" and had discussed "using electronic means to clean up pollutants in water." The narcotics agents who arrested the young Riconosciuto said they'd had him under surveillance off and on since 1968.
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