A special federal court has rejected Labor Secretary Raymond J. Donovan's request that it order New York state prosecutors to surrender federal grand jury evidence that apparently formed part of the basis for Donovan's indictment in the Bronx this fall.
The three-judge panel, headed by Judge Roger Robb of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals here, turned down Donovan's lawyers in a terse, two-paragraph ruling dated Dec. 5, according to sources familiar with the case.
The contested documents consisted of federal grand jury testimony and other records developed during special prosecutor Leon Silverman's 1982 investigation of allegations that Donovan had ties to organized-crime figures.
Silverman concluded there was "insufficient credible evidence" to warrant Donovan's prosecution for any federal crime and his records were turned over under seal to the special prosecutor's division of the U.S. Court of Appeals here.
Prosecutors for Bronx District Attorney Mario Merola obtained Donovan's federal grand jury testimony and other records from the court this spring as part of an investigation of dealings dating back to the late 1970s between Donovan's New Jersey construction company and a mob-controlled subcontractor from the Bronx.
Donovan, seven officials of his company and the two officers of the subcontractor were indicted, along with their companies, in late September on grand larceny and fraud charges in connection with a $186 million New York subway project.
Donovan's lawyers, in a sealed petition filed Nov. 28, contended that the special federal panel had no authority to permit the disclosure of "any grand jury materials" that were not specifically contained in Silverman's report to the court. They also claimed that the Bronx prosecutors had failed to supply the court with sufficient information.
The Dec. 5 order, signed for the court by clerk George A. Fisher, effectively affirmed the disclosures.
On another front, Donovan's attorneys asked a federal judge in Manhattan to move the charges against Donovan out of state court because the 137-count Bronx indictment includes 74 "crimes allegedly committed while Donovan was secretary of labor."
At an hour-long hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Lloyd McMahon, Donovan attorney William O. Bittman contended that Merola's office, in bringing the indictment with "its manifest vagueness," was "wrongfully attempting to interfere with the operations of the federal government."
Chief Bronx prosecutor Stephen R. Bookin argued that the charges involve Donovan's conduct as a private citizen. McMahon delayed a decision on whether to conduct a hearing on the evidence