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Recording of Moore Witness Played for Jury

September 07, 1996|DAVID ROSENZWEIG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Trying to show that former Compton Councilwoman Patricia Moore was entrapped in a racist plot, her defense lawyer on Friday played for a federal court jury a tape-recording, accidentally made, in which the government's star witness talked about African Americans.

In the rambling recording, which was turned over to the defense by the government, businessman-turned-FBI operative John Macardican can be heard telling an FBI agent, "Every black (sic) one's coming from everywhere."

The context of the remark was not clear, nor was the agent's response, but during his cross-examination of Macardican, defense attorney Thomas A. Mesereau Jr. cited the words to charge that Moore was the victim of a plot to entrap African American politicians in Compton.

"That's preposterous," responded Macardican during his first full day under cross-examination. "That's absolutely untrue."

Moore, who served on the Compton City Council from 1989 to 1993, is being tried on 25 counts of extortion and income tax fraud, an outgrowth of a four-year FBI probe of official corruption in that city.

The recording was made Oct. 18, 1991, after Macardican called the FBI to report that Moore was on her way to his office in South El Monte to pick up a cash payment.

Agents hurried to his office to fit him with a hidden recorder, which he routinely wore during meetings with Moore and other suspects in the probe. Somehow, the recording switch was prematurely activated and their conversation was taped.

Mesereau also confronted Macardican with an angry letter the businessman wrote to FBI Director Louis Freeh in 1994 in which he complained that someone in the Justice Department had leaked his name to the press, exposing his family to grave danger. Shortly after the leak, a building he owned in Compton was torched.

"It would appear that the bureau's leaking of specific information regarding this case is politically motivated in order to control the scope and depth of the many subjects willing to be bribed in an African American community," Macardican wrote.

"It also appears that due to the recent civil unrest in the Greater Los Angeles area involving African Americans, protecting dishonest blacks seems to be more important than the law and my safety," he added.

Macardican's tape-recorded comment about blacks was cited by defense lawyers earlier this year when they unsuccessfully sought to have the case dismissed on grounds of selective prosecution.

Citing comments on the tape recording by FBI Agents Kevin Adley and Gary Will, Mesereau also pressed Macardican on Friday to admit that his remarks to Moore were carefully scripted by the agents to make it appear that she was receiving bribe money.

The defense lawyer also suggested the FBI stretched out the alleged payoffs to Moore--there were 20 from Macardican--in order to inflate the number of criminal counts filed against her.

Macardican denied both allegations.

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