The former write-in candidate for Arizona governor traveled to Ukraine looking for love. He ended up hungry and sick in a homeless shelter _ the victim of an Internet dating scam.
Social workers were stunned to find Cary Dolego, 53, sitting on a city street last Wednesday, behaving strangely and suffering from pneumonia.
Dolego, who ran for Arizona governor just last year, had traveled to Ukraine this spring to do research for an engineering project and look for a wife. He says he met a woman named Yulia online and, hoping to marry her, went to her hometown of Chernivtsi.
She never showed up.
With nowhere to go and no money left, Dolego spent days roaming the streets of Chernivtsi along with other homeless men until he was picked up by social workers and taken to a shelter. He spoke to The Associated Press by phone Wednesday from a hospital where he was being treated for pneumonia.
"I was looking for a Ukrainian mate, a partner, somebody who would stay with me, be my wife," Dolego said. "All the Slavic ladies in this part of the world are absolutely delightful."
Social workers were shocked.
"He looked bad _ his clothes were dirty, he was dirty, he looked like a typical homeless man," said Anastasia Beridze of the Narodna Dopomoha (People's Help) charity.
A woman who acknowledges being Yulia says she had been unaware of Dolego's existence during the Internet fling.
The woman, who declined to give her last name out of fear of attracting publicity, said in an interview with the AP that someone had hacked into her account on an Internet dating site and had been communicating with Dolego on her behalf, charging Dolego for those e-mails.
The woman, who was contacted through a mobile phone number provided by Dolego, acknowledged that the account he'd been interacting with on the site was hers. She denied being part of any scam. "What happened is ugly," she said.
Yulia, a 29-year-old doctor by training, said that after she found out what happened to Dolego, she paid him a visit to express her sympathy.
"I went to the hospital and he started hugging me: 'Oh Yulia, oh Yulia!' I was shocked," she said. "He thought we were getting married."
Dolego confirmed that she visited him and he believes they could still be together.
"We seemed to hit it off," Dolego said. "She wants to continue with the relationship."
Yulia has a different take. "He is not really my type," she said.
Before his Ukrainian adventure, Dolego, of Queen Creek, Arizona, says he was pursuing a Bachelor's degree in organizational studies at the University of Arizona.
Passionate about engineering, he claims to have designed a "lifesaving" method to keep ships from sinking and aircraft from disintegrating during a crash. He says he sold his house, truck and motorbike and left for Ukraine to further study the method here.
But Dolego, a twice divorced father of three, also had another goal _ finding love with a beautiful East European woman.
After finding no support for his project in various Ukrainian cities and being evicted from a room he was renting, he said he boarded a train to Chernivtsi, hoping finally to meet his Yulia and settle down.
After he arrived, Yulia stopped answering his e-mails. With his U.S. bank account frozen and no means of supporting himself, he said, he became a homeless man. He was reduced to sleeping on the streets and seeking shelter at a local railway station, according to social workers.
"Things befall people that they cannot predict," Dolego said. "I will work through it."
Beridze said that besides being understandably worn out and ill after days of living on the streets, Dolego was exhibiting abnormal behavior. "He talks a lot and gestures a lot. He is acting strangely."
Beridze's group has contacted the U.S. Embassy in Kiev and is planning to buy Dolego a train ticket to Kiev, the capital, from where he could fly back to the United States. The U.S. Embassy declined to comment, citing the Privacy Act.