A former lieutenant in a major Washington-area prostitution ring testified yesterday he lied under oath to help convict the defendant in a 1975 rape trial as a favor to then-Alexandria prosecutor William L. Cowhig.
Larry J. Wadino, 32, convicted last year of helping run the prostitution ring, said he committed perjury in the rape case at the urging of Alexandria attorney James I. Burkhardt, who told him, "The Commonwealth (Cowhig) does not want to lose this case."
The defendant, Danny Stubblefield, was subsequently convicted of the rape charge and served a four-year prison term before being paroled last year.
The rape complaint was brought by a masseuse employed by the prostitution ring operated by Louis Michael Parrish with Wadino's assistance.
A source said yesterday that Wadino, called by the defense in the 1975 case to testify to the character of the masseuse, surprised lawyers on both sides by describing her under oath as truthful and worthy of being believed.
Wadino's testimony was interrupted and he was abruptly dropped as a defense witness, the source said.
Yesterday's testimony by Wadino came on the second day of Burkhardt's trial on racketeering and conspiracy charges growing out of his role as attorney for a string of Parrish-owned massage parlors and out-call dating services -- a once-flourishing Alexandria-based operation that grossed a million dollars a year, according to prosecutors.
Burkhardt, 49, the tall, curly-haired former president of the Alexandria Bar Association, has pleaded innocent. His attorneys have charged that Parrish and Wadino "concocted" the allegations against their former lawyer after the two were convicted last year on charges related to the prostitution ring.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond yesterday upheld the convictions of Parrish, Wadino and a third convicted member of the ring, Kathy Lynn Caldwell.
The defense argued yesterday that the three can now seek reduced sentences in return for their cooperation in the prosecution of Burkhardt.
Parrish testified on Monday he transmitted $500 in monthly cash payoffs to Cowhig through Burkhardt for more than three years to avoid prosecution of his sex-ring operation.
Wadino testified yesterday that he drove Parrish to a 1974 meeting with Cowhig and Burkhardt in which Cowhig allegedly promised not to enforce local massage parlor ordinances and state prostitution laws.
Wadino said that when Parrish emerged from the lunch at a Crystal City restaurant, Parrish announced: "It's time to rock and roll. The town is ours . . ." He said "we had the city of Alexandria locked up," Wadino testified.
When Wadino and a woman masseuse were arrested a short time later on charges related to operating a house of prostitution at a Parrish massage parlor named Bunny's, Wadino said, Burkhardt assured him the charge against him would be dropped in court. "Jim (Burkhardt) just said don't worry about it," Wadino recalled under oath.
Wadino said then-prosecutor Cowhig's office dismissed the charge against him before it came to trial and the woman masseuse received "a token $100 fine."
When he left the courthouse after his case was dismissed, Wadino said, he saw Burkhardt arguing with the police officer who raided the massage parlor. According to Wadino, Burkhardt later told him "that SOB will be back in uniform on the streets" as punishment for arresting Wadino and the masseuse. A short time later, Wadino said, he saw the same officer patrolling the streets in uniform.
Before the 1975 rape trial, Wadino said, he had told defendant Stubblefield's lawyer that he knew the masseuse pressing the charges had a bad character. But later, Wadino said, Burkhardt told him it was a "big case" for Cowhig's office, and Burkhardt allegedly instructed him to "paint a picture of her as being a pilar of the community."
When he got to the courthouse, Wadino said, he saw Burkhardt talking to Cowhig. Burkhardt then repeated to him, Wadino said, that "the Commonwealth does not want to lose this case, you know what I mean?" Wadino said Burkhardt did not specifically tell him to lie, but said Burkhardt's meaning was clear. "I knew what Jim Burkhardt meant. He meant for me to lie," Wadino swore.
Wadino also expanded yesterday on earlier testimony by Parrish concerning alleged payoffs to Alexandria city officials.
He testified that he personally made payoffs to former Alexandria health inspector Richard L. Mathews, whose duties included inspecting massage parlors for health code violations.
Mathews, 36, who now works as a health inspector for the Fauquier County health department, has strongly denied receiving any payoffs.
Wadino, a short, stocky man, also testified that Parrish took $5,000 to the 1974 meeting with Burkhardt and Cowhig at the Crystal City restaurant and intended to give it to Cowhig as a bribe.
Wadino was not present when the three met. Parrish has testified there was no talk of payoffs on that occasion.
Cowhig resigned as chief prosecutor a year ago after being acquitted at two trials of state charges related to illegal bingo operations in Alexandria. t
The defense has argued that Cowhig is a target of a two-year federal investigation of possible official corruption in Alexandria and that Burkhardt was indicted to force him to give testimony against Cowhig. Burkhardt's lawyers said their client never transmitted any payoffs to Cowhig.
Another former Parrish employe, Elizabeth Dane Pesaresi, testified yesterday that when she made plans to run her own prostitution business out of an Alexandria apartment, Cowhig assured her that she was not in danger of being prosecuted.
"Mr. Cowhig told me that in Alexandria I did not have to worry about being prosecuted," she recalled under oath. She said she met Cowhig twice through Burkhardt and described Cowhig as having "a colorful sense of humor." Pesaresi testified after receiving immunity from the government.
Burkhardt announced yesterday that he will testify in his defense. The prosecution completed its case yesterday.