Former Interstate Commerce Commission official Robert L. Oswald was acquitted by a federal jury here yesterday on all four counts in a celebrated influence-peddling and bribery trial.
Oswald had been accused by a Justice Department organized crime force of receiving $4,000 in bribes and other favors from officials of a New York trucking firm in exchange for favorable treatment in getting approval from the ICC for interstate operations.
"I feel wonderful," Oswald said upon hearing the verdict. "I just want to rest, I haven't slept in two years."
ICC secretary and congressionalliaison officer from 1970 to 1977, Oswald had also been accused of conspiring to defraud the government and obstructing justice by allegedly attempting to get a Washington attorney to lie to a federal grand jury investigating Oswald.
The Justice Department attempted to link Oswald to organized crime by putting him at several meetings with an official of the New York trucking firm, Thomas Gambinoson of the late Carlo Gambino, who headed a mafia family in New York. But U.S. District Court Judge Oliver Gasch prohibited the government from using the words mob or mafia in the trial.
Justice Department attorney Judith Dobkin called Oswald a "private lobbyist" for Consolidated Carriers corp., the New York firm, and accused him of influencing the ICC to change an earlier rejection of the company's request for a certificate to operate.
The Oswald case had received considerable publicity because of the organized crime overtones of the accusations.
Much of the government case against Oswald rested, however, on the testimony of Washington lobbyist Daryl Fleming, who was granted immunity, and Edward Lubrano, a Gambino associate, who was given a reduced sentence on a 1975 conviction for conspiracy to commit murder in exchange for his testimony.
Both said Oswald had been paid $4,000 and given other favors for his cooperation.
Among those who testified at the trial was Rep. John M. Murphy (D-N.Y.), who said he had attended military school with Gambino to Oswald to help Gambino get his trucking company approval.
Oswald's attorney, Myles Ambrose, contended throughout the trial that his client had done nothing out of the routine for his position at the commission.
"The actions that he took are wholly innocent," Ambrose told the jury."He has never been a conspirator of any sort. He never accepted any bribe."
"The American system has been vindicated," Ambrose said yesterday after the verdict was handed down by the jury, which deliberated more than two days.
Oswald was fired from his ICC post late last year, when the commission said he had violated the canon of ethics there. Many of those alleged violations were also charges in the Justice Department case against him.
Oswald is appealing that dismissal before a Civil Service Commission panel.
Justice Department sources said yesterday that the federal grand jury investigating influence-pedding at the ICC - which handed down the Oswald indictment - is still active, and hinted that there may be more indictments to come.
Oswald's assistant at the ICC, Richard Kyle, wa fired shortly after Oswald's dismissal, and has also been a central figure in the influence pedding probe.
Oswald and Kyle have alleged that their activities were no different from those of other top ICC officials, including Chairman Dan O'Neal, who has vigorously denied any wrongdoing.
In court, Ambrose alleged that witness Fleming was an "acknowledgedliar," and that the prosecution had even admitted that the Consolidated Carriers case was handled by the ICC on its merits. "This great fix," Ambrose told the jury, "wasn't a fix at all."