The daughter of admitted spy John Anthony Walker Jr. today recounted what it was like to be on the receiving end of what Walker called his "sales pitch."
Laura Mae Walker Snyder, testifying at the spy trial of retired Navy communications expert Jerry Alfred Whitworth, recounted what she said was her father's repeated, insistent recruiting of her to join his espionage ring.
Snyder, who worked as a radio operator in the Army in 1978-79, said her father tried to persuade her to pass him classified information "every time I talked to him" after he first raised the subject in a Norfolk restaurant in 1979.
Now secretary to the dean of CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) University in Virginia Beach, Snyder said her father repeatedly tried to persuade her to rejoin the Army in order to obtain access to classified information.
She said she refused "each and every time," but that "sometimes I would just be in an emotional low and because he was so persistent, and so persistent, there were times when I felt broken."
In her testimony yesterday, Snyder related extreme financial difficulties that she said were brought about by her husband's drug problem.
Her father, she said today, seized on that need. "He just looked around at the things I had and said I could have more -- nicer cars, a nicer place to live," she said. "It was in an aggressive way, a condescending way."
She said that when Walker visited her in October 1979, several months after she left the Army, she was "well into" her pregnancy and living in a Louisiana trailer park.
"I didn't want to see him," Snyder said, because he had just sent her a nasty letter "berating" her for quitting the Army. Still, she said, she let her father into the house, where he proceeded to try to recruit Snyder and her husband, Phillip Mark Snyder, into the Ku Klux Klan.
"He has a way of manipulating and maneuvering his way into your being," Laura Snyder said of her father.
John Walker testified earlier this month that he joined the Klan as an infiltrator to provide the names of members to an anonymous individual who paid him $1,000 for the information.
Snyder said she told her husband that her father asked her to pass him classified information the very day John Walker first raised the subject. Phillip Snyder, she said, "was upset. He said my Dad was a traitor and he should go and punch him in the face."
Defense lawyer Tony Tamburello, cross-examining Laura Snyder, asked whether she considered turning her father in.
"Oh no," she replied.
"And why not?" Tamburello asked.
"Because he's my dad," Snyder said.
Eventually, the Snyders separated and Phillip Snyder threatened to expose John Walker if Laura Snyder tried to obtain custody of their son, Laura Snyder said. Phillip Snyder, of Laurel, has denied blackmailing his wife.
She said she asked her mother, Barbara Joy Crowley Walker, to tell John Walker that Phillip Snyder knew he was a spy.
An angry John Walker telephoned her, Laura Snyder said. "He said he couldn't believe I would tell my junkie husband about his private life," she said, and then asked how she would feel if her husband were no longer around.
"It was very clear to me what he was saying," she testified. "I felt he was asking me how I would feel if my husband was dead by unnatural causes."
Snyder said she telephoned her mother on July 4, 1983, and said she planned to go to Maryland to retrieve her son, Christopher. Her mother, she said, was upset at the effect that would have on her ex-husband.
"There was no support from any of them," she said of her family. "They were all concerned about my Dad spending the rest of his life in jail while I was separated from my son."
Barbara Walker and Laura Snyder eventually tipped the FBI to John Walker's espionage activities in November 1984.
The government began yesterday presenting the tax portion of its case against Whitworth, who in addition to eight counts of espionage is accused of tax fraud and failing to pay income taxes on the $332,000 he allegedly received from John Walker during the course of their 11-year alleged espionage conspiracy.
Prosecutors played a tape that they said was from Whitworth to his close friend, Roger Olson, dated May 11, 1985, about three weeks before Whitworth's arrest, explaining how to hide income earned through the "underground economy."
The voice on the tape explained that he had made profits on gold coins without listing them on his tax returns.
"I didn't report it to the IRS and the IRS has no way of ever knowing that I did it," the voice said. However, he said, if he were ever investigated and the IRS had the chance to "look at my financial records with a fine-toothed comb, they would discover that my documented income was much less than my documented expenditures . . . ."
"I'd have to do some explaining," the tape continued, "[but] I'm not very worried about it."