Alexandria lawyer James I. Burkhardt has been identified as a target of a federal grand jury's investigation into possible political corruption in the city, according to an official source.
Burkhardt, who has represented various massage parlor and bingo operators in Northern Virginia, would not confirm that he has been notified he is a focus of the probe.
"I don't talk to the press anymore," Burhardt said yesterday through a secretary.
A source familiar with the investigation said, however that Burkhardt's attorney. dan Burke was told recently that Burkhardt is a target of the grand jury inquiry. Burke did not return a reporter's telephone call yesterday. Burkhardt was subpoenaed last week to appear before the panel, but then was not called to testify. The subpoena ordered Burkhardt to furnish the jury with records related to massage parlor operations headed by Louuis Michael Parrish, a former Burkhardth legal client.
On Monday the grand jury heard more than two hours' testimony from Parrish who was convicted last month of prostituition, racketeering and conspiracy for activities linked to his massage parlor empire.
An official refused yesterday to characterize Parrish's secret testimony, but said, "He wouldn't have stayed in thre so long if he was being uncooperative."
Parrish associates Larry Wadino and Kathy Lynn Caldwell who were convicted at the same time as Parrish on massage-related charges, also have testified in the corruption probe.
Federal prosecutors have said their investigation is aimed at discovering why prostitution and illegal gambling flourished in Alexandria when other Northern Virginia localities were able to shut them down.
In a related development, former Northern Virginia bing operator Alva Ford Thompson was ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Albert V. Bryan Jr. yesterday to cooperate with the grand jury. Thompson, who is now serving a sentence for illegal gambling connected to bingo games, was given immunity from federal prosecution in exchange for his testimony, an arrangement approved by Bryan.
The grand jury also heard yesterday from Alexandria accountant Frank B. Higdon, a key defense witness in the bribery trial last December of then-chief Alexandria prosecutor William L. Cowhig.
Cowhig was acquitted by a Circuit Court jury after Higdon presented an analysis of Cowhig's personal finances at the trial.
Higdon said yesterday the grand jury "wanted to know how I got the numbers" regarding Cowhig's income owned by Cowhig in the Bahamas. Higdon said he told the grand jury that Cowhig received roughly $32,000 in rental fees from the hotel.
Cowhig was accused of accepting $32,000 in bribes from an Alexandria bingo operator, an allegation he repeatedly denied.
Federal officials, who asked not to be identified, said yesterday that at least two federal investigators will travel to the Bahamas soon to look into the Cowhig-owned resort.
The grand jury, which recessed yesterday for two weeks, also heard testimony from an Internalal Revenue Service investigator, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul Murphy and Henry Hudson who are conducting the probe, declined to comment on the substance of the testimony. U.S. Attoney William B. Cummings could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, a special prosecutor who is investigating allegations of sexual misconduct by Cowhig said yesterday he has had "an exchange" of information with Hudson.
The special prosecutor, Arlington lawyer Claude Hilton, said, however, that he will not wait until the federal investigation is completed before he decides whether to bring charges against Cowhig. Hilton said he expected to complete his probe this week.
Hilton is looking into allegations that Cowhig asked for and received a sexual favor in 1975 from the wife of a drug defendant in exchange for a recommendation of leniency in sentencing. Cowhig had denied the allegation.
At an Alexandria City Council meeting last night, council member Donald C. Casey angrily accused Hilton of being "less than vigorous" in his investigation. He said Hilton had left the Alexandria Police Department "hanging in the wind" by allowing them to conduct their own probe of police handling of a report on polygraph tests administered in the Cowhig investigation.
Hilton, reached later by telephone declined to comment on Casey's statements.
Council member Robert L. Calhoun criticized Casey for continuing to express doubts about the investigation, declaring "Enough is enough."
In another development, convicted bingo operator James R. Fike was sentenced to 60 days in jail yesterday in Alexandria Circuit Court for illegal gambling activity related to games he operated in the city.
Fike was one of several bingo and massage parlor operators caught up in wide-ranging, year-long probe by law enforcment officials in northern virginia.
Alexandria city officials, who have been frustrated repeatedly in their efforts to requlate the city's massage parlors, this week went into a state court seeking a ruling on what constitutes a "massage parlor" under Virginia law.
The city's action was prompetd by statements by four massage parlors that they have converted into "health clubs" and are thus immune from a new city ordinance. Massage parlors in Norfolk and Fairfax County have taken similar steps in efforts to avoid loval regualtions.
Alexandria City Attoney Cyril D. Calley said yesterday the city filed suit against owner of the four businesses because "nothing else was working."
Frederick W. Ford, a lawyer who representsKible, the owner of Adonis ii at 1129 King St., said yesterday that the businesses would fight the suit.
"They have to prove the status of the clubs and I think they have a heavy burden to prove," Ford said.
In addition to Adonis ii, other businesses named the defendantsin the suit were Charmain's Health Club, 3970-a Bruce St.; El Dorado, 4613 Duke st., and Phase ii, 624 N. Washington St.
In the suit, the city alleges that the businesses are still offering massages and obtain more than 5 percent of their income from massages, which should place them under the city's massage parlved the parlor ordinance, officials made no secret of their aim to run the parlors out of business.
The ordinance limits massage parlor hours to between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., requires payment of an annual $5,000 fee and mandates that the businesses keep a record of each customer by name and the services provided.