An Alexandria accountant and a lawyer have been subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury probing the financial aspects of possible political corruption in the city.
Frank B. Higdon, a certified public accountant who was a key witness in the December bribery trial of former Alexandria prosecutor William L. Cowhig, said yesterday he has been ordered to produce financial records related to the trial.
The lawyer, James I. Burkhardt, who represented Alexandria massage-parlor owner Louis Michael Parrish in recent years, said he has been ordered to furnish financial documents relating to 16 corporations owned by Parrish.
Federal prosecutors are known to be investigating how illegal bingo games and Parrish's massage parlors were allowed to operate in Alexandria without many of the controls and police investigations they face in other Northern Virginia Communities.
Both men are scheduled to appear before the grand jury when it reconvenes April 9.
"The subpoena asks for all Cowhig's records and all my work files from the trial," Higdon said yesterday. "Of course I'll comply."
Higdon was served with the subpoena on Tuesday. On Monday, Cowhig came to Higdon's King Street office and took back all of his files, according to the accountant.
Higdon said he had already turned over his "work papers" to federal investigators, who declined to comment yesterday on the investigation.
Cowhig, reached at his home last night, said, "I have nothing to say. I don't know anything about it."
Cowhig was acquitted in jury trials of the bribery charge and a separate gambling count related to bingo games. He resigned last month after a second gambling charge was dropped. A separate investigation of allegations that Cowhig asked for and received a sexual favor from the wife of drug defendant in 1975 is continuing.
Earlier this week Cowhig told reporters he is considering a reelection campaign in the fall to regain his job as prosecutor.
The federal grand jury was empaneled last July to investigate illegal gambling, prostitution and racketeering activities and possible corruption of Alexandria city officials.
The first round of indictments was handed down in January against massage parlor "kingpin" Louis Michael Parrish and two top associates. All three were convicted last week of felony charges growing out of the probe. Cummings said last week it is "a possibility" that Parrish will appear before the grand jury.
The next stage of the federal investigation will focus on financial aspects of possible political corruption and will try to determine if Parrish was making "payoffs" to stay in business, officials have said.
"It is my firm belief that Parrish never said off anybody," Burkhardt said yesterday.
Burkhardt, who represented the massage parlor entrepreneur from 1975 to 1978, was mentioned frequently in testimony at the Parrish trial as an adviser and consultant to the Parrish-owned businesses. One witness testified that it was Burkhardt who suggested the term "dancing" be used to replace "intercourse" in the Parrish organization.
"I said, 'Call them dance studios.' I was giving advice on how not to violate the law. . . Everyone knows that massage parlors are places for "locals" (manual sexual stimulation). I still don't know that [they are] against the law," Burkhardt said yesterday in his Old Town office.
If he erred, Burkhardt said, it was in "being dumb, I guess."
burkhardt, 47, a former president of the Alexandria Bar Association, was ordered in his capacity as Parrish's "registered agent" to produce documents related to 16 Parrish-owned companies, according to the subpoena.
Prosecutors described the companies during Parish's trial as corporations set up to disguise Parrish's $1-million-a-year prostitution business.
Burkhardt said yesterday he was "nervous" about the investigation and felt that federal authorities were investigation him "as a likely person to drop it on."
Burkhardt also said he once telephoned one of Parrish's parlors during an Alexandria Bar Association meeting at the Ramada Inn. According to Burkhardt, four "hookers" were sent over.
Burkhardt said his duties as Parrish's attorney included representing the masseuses when they were arrested on prostitution charges. Burkhardt said yesterday he was paid $800 a month in legal fees from 1975 to 1978 and defended 20 Parrish masseuses in Falls Church, Arlington and Alexandria.
Higdon, the accountant, was a crucial defense witness for Cowhig at last year's bribery trial. Cowhig subsequently was acquitted of charges he took $32,000 in bribes from Alexandria's leading bingo game operator in exchange for not prosecuting bingo law violations.
Higdon, a former FBI employe, testified at the trial that Cowhig had ample income to meet his financial obligations in part through revenues produced by a hotel Cowhig owned in the Bahamas.