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  Gillooly Meets With FBI

By Johnette Howard
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 27, 1994; Page A1




PORTLAND, Ore., Jan. 26 — The focus shifted from the corridors of the Multnomah County district attorney's office to Portland's FBI office today as Tonya Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, accompanied by his lawyer, met there for 5½ hours with FBI and Multnomah County authorities. It was the first confirmed meeting between Gillooly and authorities since his arrest on conspiracy charges in the Jan. 6 attack on skater Nancy Kerrigan.

Portland's Oregonian, citing sources close to the investigation, reported today that investigators are nearly ready to arrest Harding — thanks now to an offer of cooperation from Gillooly.

And tonight NBC News reported on the program "Now" that sources said Gillooly was working on a deal in which he would plead guilty and get an 18-month sentence, half of what he could get if convicted.

NBC said the Kerrigan family is aware of the proposed deal and approves of it.

Gillooly's lawyer, Ron Hoevet, issued a "no comment" upon exiting the meeting.

FBI spokesman Bart Gori, when asked if Gillooly was forthcoming, said: "I assume he was. I assume he was because they're still talking [meaning they are scheduled to resume Thursday]. And I don't think he'd be wasting their time. Obviously, this is progress."

When asked about the reported plea bargain, Gori said: "I don't know about that."

Earlier, before the meeting broke up, one of Harding's lawyers, Brian Burton, told the Associated Press: "We hope that he [Gillooly] doesn't implicate Tonya. We haven't heard that he has done so."

Burton, according to the AP, said Harding should compete in the Olympics even if she is charged. "I don't think a charge or an indictment is sufficient to keep her off the Olympic team," Burton said.

Both the U.S. Figure Skating Association and the U.S. Olympic Committee have indicated that Harding could remain on the Olympic team even if arrested. Team rosters must be filed with the International Olympic Committee by Monday but can be changed as late as Feb. 21, two days before the women's figure skating competition begins in Hamar, Norway.

The FBI's meeting with Gillooly was not a sign that charges would be brought in federal court, according to Gori. "No federal charges have been contemplated at this time. We're doing it this way at the district attorney's request because the [FBI] agent is the one that knows the most about the case."

Beyond that, Gori said, federal officials are helping to subpoena bank records, phone records and wire transfers — information that could be used to corroborate charges made by Gillooly and bodyguard Shawn Eric Eckardt against Harding.

"It is my understanding that the law in Oregon is that testimony of co-conspirators cannot be used unless it is corroborated with other information," said Gori.

For the third straight day Harding left the ice at the Clackamas Town Center mall without speaking with reporters after perhaps her best practice of the week. Unlike Tuesday, she skated smoothly during her hour-long session before another big crowd. Her performance of snippets from her Olympic program drew appreciative applause.

While Gillooly was meeting with federal agents, investigators are continuing to search for more evidence.

Multnomah County deputy district attorney Norman Frink sought and won a deadline extension Tuesday for the grand jury that has been convened to consider indictments in the case. In the supporting affidavit filed with the request, Frink wrote: "Some evidence first gathered during grand jury testimony has created the necessity of further investigation, which will take some time and cannot be completed before the grand jury term. I anticipate this investigation could lead to other witnesses being called to testify before the grand jury."

If the grand jury met today for the first time this week, neither Frink nor chief district attorney Michael Schrunk would confirm it. When asked whether he had spoken to Harding today, Schrunk said: "No. I haven't talked to Tonya." When pressed about the status of the grand jury, and whether the swelled media contingent at the courthouse today was wasting its time, Shrunk said: "C'mon guys, you're getting paid to be here." Then: "You're scaring away our witnesses."

© Copyright 1994 The Washington Post Company

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