An Interstate Commerce Commission official resigned yesterday rather than face dismissal over commission charges that he accepted gifts from regulated carriers.
Richard Kyle, ICC deputy congressional relations officer, also is linked to a Justic Department probe of influence peddliing and mob activity at the ICC.
Kyle told a reporter yesterday that he was quitting for "personal reasons." but sources close to the ICC investigation said he was on the verge of being dismissed.
The sources said that the ICC investigation, completed last week, resulted in charges that Kyle accepted "hundreds of dollars worth of food, drinks, and objects of value" and that he lied to ICC investigators who questioned him.
Kyle's attorney Miles Ambrose, denied those allegations, saying."To my knowledge, Mr. Kyle has never done anything wrong."
Ambrose released a statement late yesterday indicating that Kyle had resigned his ICC position "in order to seek other employment free from the vendetta-like atmosphere which presently exists at that agency...to relieve the pressure of the harassment and coercion to which he has been sujected after having been assured by officials of the ICC that his resignation would be accepted without adverse comment or reference to any possible charges which could be filed."
Ambrose said Kyle had an agreement with the ICC director of personnel and assistant general counsel not to release that information "to avoid further mental anguish for our client."
Ambrose said the ICC's purpose in the agreement "was to avoid further embarrassment and clouding of its already murky reputation."
Ambrose accused the ICC of displaying "a lack of decency. We kept our word, but apparently officials of our government are immune from keeping theirs."
Kyle 51, and his superior, Robert Oswald, ICC secretary and congressional relations officer, were suspended by the ICC last June following reports that they were being investigated by the Justice Department. That investigation is continuing.
Last September the ICC reinstated both men, who were drawing their salaries throughout (Kyle, a GS-15, makes $40,000 a year) and assigned them to "less sensitive" tasks pending the outcome of the Justice probe and a resulting internal investigation. Kyle was assigned to the Rail Services Planning Office.
Last December, the ICC completed its investigation of Oswald and fired him, an action it said was "based on several allegations of impropriety or failure to abide by the commissions code of conduct."
Commission sources said Oswald had refused to cooperate with the internal investigation into his activities, but Kyle had agreed to cooperate-leading most ICC officials to believe that Kyle would survive the probe. But the sources said it later became apparent that Kyle had been involved in some activities with Oswald and he was not cooperating fully with the investigation.
The commission's accusations included the charge that Oswald attempted to get a witness to lie to the Justice Department about certain meetings between Oswald and Thomas Gambino, a member of a reputed New York mob family with trucking interests. He also was charged with arranging for attorneys to represent trucking companies before the ICC and with disclosing confidential ICC information.
Ambrose, who also is Oswald's attorney, filed a response to the charges in an attempt to challenge the dismissal. The dismissal was upheld by the ICC but has been appealed to the Civil Service Commission.
Kyle's role was not discussed in the report on Oswald's activities.
But an ICC official said yesterday that Kyle was "advised that his investigation was concluded, and told what was found." The official said it was made clear to Kyle that if he did not resign, he would be fired and charges would be lodged against him.
Kyle joined the commission in 1965 as a special assistant to Commissioner Virginia Mae Brown. A gradute of the Pioneer Theological Seminary in Rockwille, 111, he served as a minister for the American Baptist Convention from 1950 to 1958. Shortly thereafter, he became a special assistant to West Virginia Gov. William Barron, a Democrat.
Barron and several of his aides later went to jail on federal corruption charges in 1964, Kyle himself was accused by a Republican gubernatorial candidate of influence peddling. Although Kyle resigned his position as state fire marshall one day after his denial, he said at the time that he was not admitting guilt.
It was after that incident that Kyle was hired by the ICC under the recommendation of Brown who had served as Gov. Barron's legal counsel.