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Court Demands Condit's Papers

Probe: Grand jury subpoena indicates investigators may be focusing anew on the congressman's truthfulness.

November 16, 2001|ROBERT L. JACKSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WASHINGTON — Rep. Gary A. Condit, who has long denied any role in the disappearance of former government intern Chandra Levy, disclosed Thursday that a grand jury has subpoenaed an undetermined number of documents in his possession.

The subpoena from the District of Columbia Superior Court comes after several months of apparent inactivity in the case and suggests that officials may be focusing anew on the truthfulness of statements made by Condit or his staff members, legal analysts said.

Neither Condit nor his attorney, Abbe Lowell, would describe what materials were subpoenaed, but Lowell termed the move "not necessary" because he said Condit would willingly "provide the information law enforcement seeks."

Lowell said that the Ceres, Calif., congressman had been interviewed four times by District of Columbia police detectives and FBI agents, most recently in late July, and that he provided "documents such as phone records and his schedule" for the period before and after May 1, when Levy disappeared.

Police have said repeatedly that Condit is not suspected of any foul play involving Levy, 24, a USC graduate student who vanished after completing an internship at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. Condit, who is married, has publicly described his relationship with Levy as "very close" but refused to characterize it further.

Law enforcement officials said that, as a matter of policy, they would not discuss the subpoena, which was disclosed by Condit in a brief letter to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). House rules require members to notify superiors when a grand jury seeks any of their records.

One federal source confirmed that the subpoena was issued to support the combined police-FBI investigation.

Among other matters, authorities have been looking into claims by flight attendant Anne Marie Smith that Condit asked her to lie to investigators about a 10-month affair she says they had, thus raising the question of whether Condit tried to obstruct the investigation. Condit has challenged Smith's credibility.

Last summer, FBI agents interviewed former Condit staff members and acquaintances in Washington, in Levy's hometown of Modesto and in other parts of Northern California--often asking more about Condit than about Levy.

Investigators also have been probing a witness' account that he saw the congressman toss a watch case into a trash can in Alexandria, Va., hours before his condominium several miles away was searched by police July 10. The watch case was recovered and was found to have been a gift to Condit from a woman in San Francisco who had worked on his staff, an official said.

The same witness reported that Condit hurried back to a car driven by another man moments after disposing of the watch case.

In August, in a nationally televised interview, Condit insisted he had been unfailingly candid in his four interviews with the D.C. police and FBI agents. But Washington police disputed that characterization. "It took us three interviews and a lot of effort to get as far as we got," said Executive Assistant Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer. An attorney for Levy's parents accused the lawmaker of deception.

Since then, Condit has signaled his intention to seek an eighth term next year but has not formally announced his candidacy for reelection. His wife of 34 years, Carolyn, has said publicly that she stands by him.

Levy turned up missing in May as she was preparing to return home to receive a master's degree from USC. She was last seen April 30 at a health club near her apartment in Dupont Circle, a fashionably funky neighborhood about two miles north of the White House.

Police have conducted thorough searches of woods near her home and a stretch of the Anacostia River but have found no clues. Her car keys and credit cards were found inside her apartment.

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