LAKE CITY, Fla. – After the U.S. Attorney's Office announced that a 53-year-old Fort White man had been indicted on charges of forced labor and aggravated sexual abuse, a woman who said she once believed she was married to the man contacted News4Jax.
Guarino E. Broccoli Jr., also known as Gary Broccoli and Gary Edwards, is accused of using threats of serious harm to get a woman to work and of sexually abusing her.
According to an indictment unsealed Wednesday, Broccoli, 53, forced the woman to work and provide services by using force and threats of force.
Meghan Gregory, 26, who now lives in Oklahoma, said she got away from Columbia County several years ago after being hospitalized. She said she believed she was married to Broccoli at the time, but that she learned it was a sham because he was still married to another woman.
“Gary was keeping me in a camper trailer with no electricity, no water, no food,” Gregory said.
She was one of several woman who contacted News4Jax via Facebook to say they knew Broccoli after the story was first posted to our social media accounts on Wednesday.
But when News4Jax went to Broccoli's property in Fort White, another woman, who asked not to be identified, told a different story.
“What I can tell you is, yes, I worked for him the last three months. The man never held me here. Never forced me to do anything. I have worked for him because the man is physically disabled,” she said.
The woman said she heard from others about problems and possible multiple wives and heard what the FBI and Justice Department said Broccoli did.
“I understand that someone is saying they were held here against their will by him. It's not possible. That man is not able,” she said. “He's got a hand that's in a brace. It's clawed. His legs are disabled. He uses a walker sometimes because it's so bad. No, this man did not, for sure, I can't see it.”
Broccoli, who is still in federal lockup, could face up to life in federal prison and forfeit his home and other real estate property in Fort White.
The U.S. attorney said investigators are seeking other potential victims. Gregory said she has talked to authorities about her history with Broccoli.
News4Jax learned that Broccoli served a six-month sentence in prison on a conviction for multiple counts of grand theft, fraud and criminal mischief. He had no history of bigamy charges, but was arrested twice in 2007 and then again in 2012 for passing worthless checks in Columbia County.