Attorney Mark Lane told a reporter for the Guyana Broadcasting Service during a tape recorded interview on Nov. 20 that he had been forewarned not to eat any grilled cheese sandwiches served at Jonestown because the sandwiches were "tradtitionally used" by the Peoples Temple to "drug people."
During the same intervew, a tape of which was obtained today by The Washington Post, Lane, the noted conspiracy lawyer, said he took the warning seriously because it came from a trusted "inside source" within the Temple's hierarchy.
"Well, that afternoon, they had grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch," Lane said, describing the scene at Jonestown as Rep. Leo J. Ryan and other members of his party ate the cheese sandwiches served to them during their visit to the People's Temple community on Nov. 18. "I wasn't hungry so I didn't have any lunch," Lane says on the tape. "Um, and I wondered then if they had done that," (drugged the sandwiches).
[Lane said through his law partner April Ferguson that he could not recall the specific interview since "he was interviewed by a whole lot of people."]
["The implication of what Mr. Krause is trying to say that I knew of any drugging of food is a lie," Ferguson, in a telephone interview from Memphis, quoted Lane as saying. "I did not know of any food being drugged there. I ate everything served to me. I ate dinner Friday night with Mr. Krause and ate everything he ate. I never rejected any food served to me because it might be drugged. Krause has invented stories about me earlier as part of the media's attempt to destroy my reputation."]
Lane's foreknowledge of the possibility that the cheese sandwiches were drugged -- and his failure to warn Ryan and other members of his party -- has become the focus of a disbarment hearing now under way by a grievance committee of the New York Bar Association.
A complaint of unethical behavior was brought against Lane shortly after The Washington Post reported on Nov. 24 that Lane has said in an interview that he had been warned that the cheese sandwiches served at Jonestown might have contained tranquilizers or other drugs.
Since the complaint against him was lodged, Lane has vehemently denied both publicly and to the grievance committee, that he over told the Post that he had reason to suspect that the cheese sandwiches were drugged. Lane was serving as an attorney for the Peoples Temple at the time the Jonestown tragedy occurred.
Lane has maintained that he was misquoted, going so far as to say that he did not even know that cheese sandwiches were served for lunch shortly before Ryan and four other members of his party were shot to death by Jonestown gunmen at the Port Kaituma airstrip. More than 900 of the late Rev. Jim Jones's followers later died of cyanide poisoning at the remote agricultural commune.
The Post article of Nov. 24, based on an interview with Lane that was not tape-recorded, is at the center of the grievance proceeding that could lead to Lane's disbarment. Until today, what Lane said or did not say, would largely have been a case of the reporter's word against Lane's denial.
The interview with the Guyana Broadcasting Service was taped and broadcast in Georgetown on Nov. 20, less than 24 hours after Lane reached here after escaping from Jonestown and four days before the disputed interview with the Post. It has Lane telling in his own words exactly what he knew and suspected at the time the cheese sandwiches were served.
Lane's discussion of the sandwiches came in response to a question about why he thought many of Jones' followers had voluntarily drunk the mixture of Flavor-Aid and Cyanide that killed them.
"I had the impression then that people had been drugged," Lane told the reporter who was interviewing him. "I'm not sure but I did have an inside source. I had to get information about my own clients, I had to do that and I was doing that. And I found out one of the ways -- drugs are used on occasion -- and the way they drugged people was putting it in a grilled cheese sandwich.
"This person said don't eat any grilled cheese sandwiches because that's the easiest place to put it and it has been traditionally used by them," Lane said.
"Well, that afternoon, they had grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. I wasn't hungry so I didn't have any lunch. Um, and I wondered then if they had done that [drugged the sandwiches.] They were so relaxed," Lane said, an apparent reference to the Peoples Temple guards who later kept him in a house at Jonestown before Lane talked his way to freedom.
With Lane in Jonestown was Charles E. Garry, another lawyer for the Peoples Temple who accompanied Ryan on the congressman's trip to Jonestown last November. Garry has said that Lane mentioned the cheese sandwiches as the two made their way out of Jonestown on the night of Nov. 18, but Garry has said he could not recall exactly why Lane said the sandwiches might have been dangerous.
In another development, Steve Katsaris, who had sought to expose the Peoples Temple before Ryan's trip, and Kathy Hunter, a free-lancer journalist from California who was harassed when she sought to enter Jonestown last May, have both said that Lane interviewed them last October posing as a journalist working for Esquire Magazine.
[Lane's partner, Ferguson, said that a transcript of the interview showed Lane identifying himself as a "lawyer, writer, freelance writer" and added that Lane "never told anyone he was working for Esquire."]