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Bail Denied to Agent Linked to Jail Plot

September 29, 1998|DANIEL YI

A federal judge on Monday denied bail to an Orange County private investigator accused of taking part in a jailhouse murder plot by alleged police killer Hung Thanh Mai.

Daniel Bruce Watkins appeared before U.S. District Judge Linda H. McLaughlin, who deemed him dangerous and a flight risk.

"The posting of a bond, even if in the amount of $500,000, does not lessen the risk to the safety of persons in the community if defendant Watkins is not detained," McLaughlin ruled.

Watkins was arrested in July in conjunction with an investigation by federal and local law enforcement agencies into the dealings of jail inmate Mai, who allegedly had plotted to kill a witness in his pending murder trial.

Mai is accused of killing California Highway Patrol officer Don J. Burt in 1996.

Federal prosecutors said that Watkins, assigned by the county to help Mai's attorneys, allegedly provided Mai's associates with a photo, address and other information on a key witness against Mai.

Mai is also accused of running a gun-trafficking operation from jail. His federal trial will begin in May.

A trial date has not been set for Watkins.

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