Frank E. Terpil, the ex-CIA employe and fugitive arms dealer, may have gotten away, but thanks to what he left behind, a lot of scofflaws who use government parking lots probably won't.
When Terpil fled the country two years ago, he forfeited as part of his bail 80 of the so-called Denver boots that police use to lock the wheels of people who have failed to pay parking tickets.
And now police at the Pentagon --the Washington area's largest office building -- and other federal agencies plan to begin using the boots. Since Pentagon police issue 36,000 tickets a year -- more than one for every worker inside the building -- that's a lot of locked wheels.
To Pentagon police, Terpil's disappearance overseas couldn't have been more timely. "It's beautiful," said Police Capt. Enoch Williams, who noted that he had requested long ago that the government purchase some boots of its own -- a request, he said, had been delayed by "red tape."
That's where acting U.S. Marshal Roger Ray of Alexandria came in. He knew of Terpil's unusual bond and alerted the federal police to it. Federal District Judge John H. Pratt agreed and ordered the boots -- valued at $25,000 -- turned over to the Federal Protective Service, which polices the Pentagon's 10,000 parking spaces and other government lots.
The boots were posted by Terpil as partial collateral on his $75,000 bond after he and former CIA agent Edwin P. Wilson were indicted two years ago on charges related to Libyan terrorist activities. Authorities confiscated the boots after Terpil left the country in the summer of 1980.
Terpil, who has been reported living in Beirut, Lebanon, was involved in a D.C. firm that sold them to police departments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Carol E. Bruce said yesterday.
The boots weren't the only unusual item that Terpil, once a private adviser and weapons supplier to Idi Amin of Uganda, offered as bond.
He also turned over a sophisticated radio transceiver, which prosecutors say they later learned had been taken from Uganda's mission to the United Nations in New York.
Pratt has ordered the radio returned to the mission, where Terpil once maintained an office. Bruce said the equipment is expected to be handed over by U.S. marshals this week.
Federal law enforcement officials say they still hope to recover the full Terpil bond. The Internal Revenue Service has filed nearly $3 million in tax liens in Fairfax County Circuit Court against Terpil's Japanese-style home at 1102 Chain Bridge Rd. in McLean.
Bruce said yesterday the home was purchased by Terpil for $260,000 in cash in December 1978. At the time, she said, Terpil had a $2 million contract to furnish weapons to Amin, which led to the IRS investigation. A District tax lawyer representing Terpil said yesterday no hearing date has been set for the case in U.S. Tax Court.