FBI Denies Witness Tampering In Oklahoma City Bombing Lawsuit

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Originally published at KFOR by K. Kerry on 11/13/14

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (KSTU) – A federal judge in Utah has indicated that he wants an investigation into whether the FBI tampered with a witness in a trial regarding the Oklahoma City bombing.

At a hearing on Tuesday, the judge stopped short of finding the FBI in contempt of court, according to KSTU.

Instead, he indicated that he would appoint a federal magistrate judge to oversee further investigation into the claims.

However, he ruled that the FBI failed to file a report on the allegations in a timely manner.

“The report raises questions and is incomplete and insufficient to conclude if the FBI was involved in witness tampering,” he said.

The claims of witness tampering stemmed from a trial earlier this year over evidence and records connected to the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal building.

Jesse Trentadue is suing over the death of his brother, Kenneth, who he claims was mistaken for a bombing co-conspirator and killed while in federal custody during an interrogation.

Photo of aftermath of 1995 OKC bombing
1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

Trentadue is asking for records, including videotapes that he claims show convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh parking a truck in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and leaving with someone else before the bomb went off.

Trentadue has claimed that the other person was an FBI operative.

“There’s no doubt in my mind and it’s proven beyond any doubt that the FBI knew the bombing was going to take place months before it happened,” Trentadue said. “They didn’t stop it, and then the question becomes, ‘How did you know and why didn’t you stop it?”

The FBI has insisted that it had no knowledge of the bombing before it happened.

As part of his case for the FBI’s records, Trentadue wanted to call John Matthews to take the stand.

He claims Matthews was an undercover government operative who knew Timothy McVeigh.

Before going before a judge, Matthews told an operator and an FBI agent that he did not want to testify.

Trentadue accused the FBI of intimidating Matthews into refusing to testify, claiming FBI Special Agent Adam Quirk spoke with him before the trial.

A report from the Justice Department shows that investigators found that no witness tampering took place.

However, it did chastise the FBI for not notifying the department about the conversation with Matthews, saying Agent Quirk gave a response that could be “construed as legal advice.”

See related article below.


FBI Denies Witness Tampering In Oklahoma City Bombing Lawsuit

Originally published at The Huffington Post by Brady McCombs on 11/10/14

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The FBI did not pressure a former government operative into backing out of testifying in a lawsuit claiming the agency failed to search its files for additional videos of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, a new FBI report shows.

The bureau’s office of inspections disclosed the report on Friday, a day after U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups threatened the FBI with contempt of court for not completing the tampering investigation as he had ordered.

A hearing is scheduled Thursday to discuss the matter.

Photos of Timothy McVeigh, Jesse and Kenneth Trentadue
Timothy McVeigh (left), Jesse Trentadue (top right), photo of Kenneth Trentadue (bottom right)

The lawsuit was filed by Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue, who believes there is video showing Timothy McVeigh was not alone in detonating the bomb in Oklahoma.

Trentadue believes the presence of a second suspect would explain why his brother was flown to Oklahoma months after the bombing. His brother died in a federal holding cell.

The case reached trial because the judge was not satisfied by the FBI’s previous explanations after the lawsuit was filed in 2008. The judge also cited the public importance of the possible tapes.

Trentadue leveled the witness tampering allegation during trial in July. Department of Justice attorneys said they were false, but Waddoups ordered the FBI to look into the claim.

Former operative John Matthews had been set to testify about his involvement in a stealth government operation that tracked militia movements and included McVeigh, Trentadue said.

The agency’s report said Matthews called the FBI in Utah to tell them he didn’t want to testify during the lawsuit and asked how he could get out of it.

FBI inspectors said they listened to five recorded phone conversations between Matthews and agent Adam Quirk and determined Matthews was never intimidated or discouraged from testifying.

The report found Quirk should have notified the Justice Department about the calls and been clearer about the FBI not being able to give advice about testifying. Still, the agency said there was no tampering.

The report includes partially redacted transcripts of several recorded phone conversations. One call from Quirk’s cellphone was not recorded, and there is no transcript.

Matthews also sent an email saying he made the decision to back out of testifying on his own, the report says.

A transcript of one phone call shows Matthews telling Quirk that he wasn’t going to testify unless a judge issued a subpoena. If he was forced to testify, he said, “I’m going to sit there on the stand and say I don’t recall anything.”

Matthews later added, “This is old stuff and it don’t need to be brought up again.”

In a different call, Matthews said he met Timothy McVeigh before the bombing but “just because I crossed someone’s path don’t mean I have anything to share.”

Quirk told investigators the nature of the unrecorded, four-minute call from his cellphone was similar to the recorded ones.

“This report does not put my mind at ease,” Trentadue said. “It just raises more questions.”