An imprisoned former FBI informer has told the Justice Department that two FBI agents paid him $4,100 to keep him from testifying about the bureau's role in the burglary of the Socialist Workers Party's Denver office last July 7.
The informer, Timothy J, Redfearn, also charged that, under orders from the FBI, he burglarized the Denver home of Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-(Colo.) during the past year.
Asked about these allegations, Homer J. Boynton, a spokesman at FBI headquarters in Washington, said the agents named by Redfern deny paying him to keep silent. Boynton added that the "allegations concerning Congresswoman Schroder are without foundation."
Justice Department officials refused to comment. However, reliable sources confirmed that Redfern made the charges at a Feb. 18 meeting in Denver with Assistant Attorney General J. Stanley Pottinger and two assistant U.S. attorneys from Chicago, William Elsbury and Steven Kadison.
Pottinger, the outgoing head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, has been conducting a nationwide probe of illegal FBI burglaries against domestic political dissidents. He has been asked by Attorney General Griffin B. Bell to remain with the department unitl the investigation is completed.
The sources said that Redfearn's charges are now being studied for possible further action. They said that the Justice Department is proceeding cautiously because Redfearn has a documented record of criminal activity and unreliability in his statements.
Redfearn, serving 10 years in a Colorado state prison for the SWP burglary, told the Justice Department officials that he was paid $4,100 in five installments between last July and September in exchange for his refusal to testify before a Denver County grand jury investigating the case.
He said the payments - respectively $2,000, $800, $650, $500 and $150 - were made in cash by two agents of the FBI's Denver office, John Almon and Frank Renner. Almon had been Redfearn's control officer when he worked as an FBI informer infiltrated into the SWP.
Redfearn said he had given no receipts for the payments, which were made in person or sent through the mail. He added, though, that he had used the initial payment of $2,000 for a downpayment on a house and had a receipt covering that transaction.
His charges marked the latest turn in case that surfaced last July, when Redfearn was arrested with documents stolen from the SWP office in his possession. Following his assertion that he had committed the burglary as part of his informer duties, the SWP obtained a court order forcing that FBI to make public Redfearn's file.
Although it contained no evidence that the FBI had told Redfearn to commit the burglary, the file revealed that the bureau's Denver office put some of the documents taken in the break-in into its files and concealed from the local police for eight days its knowledge that Redfearn had the stolen papers.
The file also disclosed that Refearn had committed two other burglaries against the SWP in 1973 and that the FBI paid him for documents taken in those break-ins and continued to employ him as an informer.
No action was taken against FBI officials. However, the Denver County judge who sentenced Redfearn said that he did not believe that the full story of the FBI's complicity had been told. Similarly, the grand jury asked that the record of its proceedings be sent to the Justice Department for further investigation.
Rep. Schroeder confirmed yesterday that her house in Denver, which she has rented to another occupant, has been burglarized several times, including "once about a year ago."
Schroeder, who has been publicly critical of the FBI, added that Redfearn recently contacted a member of her Denver staff and said that the FBI had ordered him to keep an eye on her election campaigns and report on persons associated with them.