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Police, Auditor Differ on Beating

The Los Alamos lab whistle-blower insisted attack was intended to silence him. Authorities call it a bar brawl not related to his status.

June 10, 2005|Ralph Vartabedian | Times Staff Writer

An assault this week on an auditor from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico was not related to his status as a whistle-blower and prospective congressional witness, police in Santa Fe said Thursday.

Tommy Hook, who has alleged that millions of dollars were wasted at the lab, was severely beaten in the parking lot of a topless bar early Sunday. Hook said the attack was meant to silence him.

But police said Thursday that it appeared the incident began when Hook hit or bumped into a pedestrian in the parking lot with his car.

"Facts, evidence and information obtained ... led investigators to believe that the altercation involving Mr. Hook is an isolated incident and is in no way related to Mr. Hook's whistle-blower status at the Los Alamos National Laboratories," Santa Fe Deputy Police Chief Eric Johnson said in a statement.

The FBI and Santa Fe police are investigating the beating and have identified several individuals who witnessed or participated in the brawl. So far, no charges have been filed.

At a news conference Monday, Hook's wife, Susan, said that Hook had received a call late Saturday from a source who had promised him information about fraud at the lab; the source reportedly asked to meet Hook at Cheeks, a topless bar.

The individual did not show up, Hook's wife said, and when Hook left, he was jumped by several men who told him he "needed to start keeping his mouth shut."

Hook ended up with a broken jaw, a concussion and back injuries. He was hospitalized for two days.

Since then, various accounts have discredited Hook's version of events.

A lawyer representing the nightclub owner said that Hook had paid for a waitress at the club to perform a lap dance and had consumed six beers.

But Hook stands by his story that he was lured to the bar and beaten up to keep silent.

In a brief interview Thursday, Hook said he was feeling a little better physically but was trying to cope with the mental stress of the attack.

Peter Stockton, an investigator for the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington watchdog group that had supported Hook's allegations, said Thursday that the police had done a superficial investigation meant to discredit Hook.

So far, Stockton said, they have not obtained phone records to check Hook's story or conducted any polygraphs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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