An FBI specialist in court-ordered safecracking operations was indicted yesterday in Alexandria and Washington on charges of selling stolen jewelry, soliciting perjury and tax evasion and breaking into the FBI headquarters credit union.
The agent, H. Edward Tickel Jr., 42, a 14-year veteran who was once the bureau's top expert in secret entries and safecracking, was fired yesterday. He faces up to 98 years in prison and fines of up to $88,000 if convicted on all 14 counts in the four indictments.
Tickel has said in interviews before his indictments that he is innocent of all the charges.
At a bond hearing yesterday in Alexandria before U.S. District Judge James Cacheris, Tickel, who owns a farm in Fairfax Station, was released on $50,000 personal bond. Cacheris also ordered Tickel to stay within 50 miles of the D.C. area, surrender all passports and return all FBI-issued identifications, and to report to probation officials three times a week.
According to the indictments, Tickel allegedly sold in December 1977 more than $37,000 worth of jewelry he knew was stolen from a wholesale jewelry salesman in Lexington, N.C., and then asked two friends who bought that jewelry from him to lie to investigators about the sale. It was not revealed how the theft occurred.
Tickel's lawyer, Kenneth M. Robinson, has said the diamonds Tickel sold were not stolen but had been in Tickel's family for some time.
The FBI began investigating Tickel a month after the salesman reported the theft. One count in the indictment charges Tickel with lying to investigators in early 1978 when he said he was not in North Carolina at the time of the theft.
In April 1980, Tickel, who was then working at FBI headquarters here, was arrested in the bureau's credit union office. He was indicted yesterday on a charge of entering the office with intent to steal. He also was charged with stealing four walkie-talkie radios in an unrelated incident in November 1978.
In interviews, Robinson has said that Tickel, who was transferred to another division in the bureau after the credit union incident, went to the credit office after receiving an anonymous telephone tip and found a door unlocked and a safe open.
In 1979, the Internal Revenue Service began investigating Tickel's tax returns. He was charged yesterday with evading more than $10,000 in taxes in 1978 and with "substantially" understating his and his wife's 1979 income, which he reported at $48,500.
Tickel also was charged with making false statements to IRS officials, which included claims that payments he made in 1976 and 1977 were for business expenses when they were for his car insurance, and that a trip to Ohio in 1977 was for private business and deductible when it was official FBI business for which he was reimbursed.