American officials haven't set a timetable for the release of Morris Township concert promoter Patrick Allocco and his son, who have been trapped in Angola on fraud accusations since New Year's Eve, Allocco said Friday.
But Allocco said the same officials have told him, however, that they are "changing strategies" to get them home and that they should "see some results very soon."
Allocco said he and his son, Patrick Jr., were captured at gunpoint and interrogated for hours by a local promoter’s henchmen after rapper Nas, who was fronted $300,000 by local promoter Henrique “Riquhino” Miguel, skipped out on two concerts in Luanda, the nation’s capital.
American authorities intervened when Allocco, CEO of AllGood Concerts in Convent Station, was able to text message the American embassy while calling Nas' management, Allocco said.
Nas instead performed at a party with NBA star LeBron James in Miami, according to reports.
Allocco, who said he’s running out of money, had his second request for refuge at the embassy rejected Friday, however. Allocco said he has been paying to stay at a hotel in Luanda.
Allocco's initial refuge request was denied because his case didn't fit necessary criteria, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at a press conference Wednesday. It wasn't immediately clear why Allocco didn't match the criteria, however. Nuland also said the embassy has given the pair clothes and medicine, though.
Nuland also said Allocco has been charged with fraud, though the Morris Township resident disputed that, saying he hasn't faced formal charges from Angolan authorities.
Nas has since repaid the $300,000, but Miguel wants $75,000 more in concert expenses, Allocco said. He said two weeks ago Miguel agreed to let Allocco pay him $10,000 a month from March to September, but Miguel recently reneged on the deal, demanding Allocco pay $50,000 upfront and then another $25,000 when he returns home, Allocco said.
He hopes that's soon.
“I’m getting the feeling they’re working harder right now to bring this to some sort of resolution,” Allocco said Friday after meeting with an embassy official.
Miguel's lawyer, Joao Barros, told Agence France-Presse Thursday the Alloccos were like "an organisation (sic) of anarchists."
“They preferred leaving Angola without his (Miguel's) knowledge, which is why he had them arrested by the police, and laid a case against them to be reimbursed," Barros told AFP.
Angolan prosecutor Carlos Santos has placed a travel ban on Allocco, preventing him from flying back to America, Allocco said.
Since being detained Allocco has reached out to leaders such as U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s (R-11th Dist.), U.S. Senator Robert Menedez and Morris Township Deputy Mayor Bruce Sissler, Allocco said. He has also frequently posted updates on his Facebook page, released an open letter to the concert industry, and even explained his ordeal in a YouTube video, which he said caused his Angolan attorneys to drop the case. Allocco said he recently removed the clip from the web site.
Allocco said he would represent himself Monday when he hopes to ask the Angolan prosecutor to lift the travel restriction.
"All that we need is to be heard," Allocco said.
A Frelinghuysen spokesman said Allocco's "remains the highest priority for Rodney and his staff—something we work on every day."
"We are keenly aware of Mr. Allocco’s situation in Angola," the spokesman said. "Rodney speaks with Patrick regularly and has been in personal touch with senior State Department officials and our ambassador in Luanda, Christopher McMullen, as recently as [Friday] morning."
Sissler wrote a letter Friday to President Obama asking him to step up the effort to bring Allocco home.
"I ask you for your assistance in this matter to please increase the efforts of the United States Government to bring Patrick and Patrick, Jr. home," Sissler said in the letter. "They are our countrymen and my neighbors and friends."