Former Interstate Commerce Commission Secretary and congressional liason officer Robert Oswald was fired from his job last year because he "grossly abused his position and office to the great expense of the American public," a Civil Service Commission hearing was told yesterday.
It was the first public airing of the charges lodged by the ICC against Oswald, who instigated the hearing as part of his appeal process.
The ICC began the three-day hearing by outlining the case it has been building for over a year against Oswald, who only last Friday was indicted by a federal grand jury here on charges of bribery, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to defraud the government.
ICC Regional Director Ivan Schaeffer opened the case against Oswald by outlining four specific charges. It was alleged that Oswald:
"Improperly referred business regarding commission actions to private attorneys." The commission cited five specific charges of improper conduct where it was alleged that Oswald recommended specific attorneys to truckers having to appear before the commission.
"Released without authority information on actions pending before the commission." Here the commission alleged that Oswald had given embargoed information to outsiders before the sanctioned release date.
"Improperly asked a prospective witness to give false or misleading information in connection with a criminal investigation."
It was alleged that Oswald had asked a long-time friend, Washington attorney Theodore Polydoroff, to lie to federal investigators if they asked about a meeting the two had with Thomas Gambino, who ran a New York trucking concern and is the son of the late reputed Mafia boss Carlo Gambino. Oswald reportedly told Polydoroff that ICC records of dealings with Gambino's firm had been subpoenaed.
"Failed to cooperate in a commission investigation of his official conduct." The commission said it had made repeated attempts to talk to Oswald with no response.
"The Interstate Commerce Commission contends that any one of these actions taken in and of itself would be sufficient to justify appellant's dismissal" Schaeffer said. He then called for the dismissal to be upheld "for the good of all those regulated by the agency and the American public."
For his part, Oswald, who has denied all of the charges, through his attorneys Miles Ambrose and James Ryan, first accused the commission of being unfair in not granting Oswald additional time to respond to the charges after it was discovered in January that, during his 30-day period to respond to the charges he had attempted to commit suicide through an overdose of sleeping pills.
But the government reiterated that Oswald was not committed to George Washington Hospital until more than a day after the alleged suicide attempt, and said that it was several days later before the government was notified of it.
The government proceeded to open its case, calling attorney Polydoroff to the stand first. He testified that Oswald had given his name to some trucking concerns, including Gambino's Consolidated Carriers Corp., as a possible counsel to represent them, but alleged that he, Polydoroff, believed such action to be proper.
Polydoroff said he also met with Oswald in March 1977 at the L'Orangerie restaurant, and that Oswald asked him at that dinner not to tell federal investigators that the three had met.
"Bob called me," Polydoroff testified, "and he was very, very distraught. He said some of his files had been subpoenaed and that I might be involved. We agreed to meet for lunch."
At the lunch, Polydoroff testified, Oswald was "on the verge of tears." The attorney said Oswald repeated the line, "Don't place me at the meeting," referring to the Gambino lunch.?