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Witnesses Back Ex-SBC Worker's Defense in Federal Perjury Case

Joann Wiggan, accused of lying to a grand jury investigating Anthony Pellicano, calls her ex-husband, son and co-workers to testify.

September 22, 2006|Greg Krikorian | Times Staff Writer

A former SBC employee accused of lying about her telephone conversations with a co-worker indicted in the wiretapping case of private investigator Anthony Pellicano called a string of witnesses Thursday to vouch for her character and bolster her contention that prosecutors have misconstrued her phone records.

Joann Wiggan, 52, of Burbank is facing five perjury counts for allegedly concealing the extent of her contacts with Ray Turner, who was indicted for allegedly conspiring with Pellicano to obtain confidential records of telephone customers.

Telephone records showing numerous calls between phone numbers for Wiggan and Turner, including hundreds of calls from Wiggan's home or cellphones to her office voicemail, are the cornerstone of the government's case against her.

Although Wiggan has not been accused of involvement in the wiretapping case and denies any knowledge of illegal wiretapping, prosecutors have said that her calls often occurred around the time Turner allegedly contacted two other SBC employees who have admitted that they improperly provided him with confidential information about customers.

As Wiggan took the witness stand in her defense Wednesday, she and her attorney explained that she had told a federal grand jury that she had not accessed her office voicemail before 2003 -- but later amended her testimony. The change, Wiggan said, came after she learned that her estranged husband had been accessing the voicemail.

On Thursday, ex-husband Charles Wiggan, 58, testified that he had repeatedly called her office voicemail prior to 2003 because he suspected that she was seeing someone else.

"I was leaving messages and picking up messages," he said. "We were going through a difficult time ... and I was trying to figure out what was going on in our marriage of 20 years."

The couple's eldest son, Charles, 27, also testified that he and his siblings made many of the calls to his mother's office voicemail.

Earlier, Joann Wiggan finished testifying in her own defense, dismissing claims by Assistant U.S. Atty. Daniel Saunders that she and her ex-husband had fabricated a story about him calling her voicemail to explain away the records of calls from her phones.

Wiggan also denied Saunders' assertion that she amended her original testimony to the grand jury last October only after she saw that, two days after she testified, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was indicted for perjury in a case that drew worldwide attention.

"No, I don't know anything about that," Wiggan said. "I did not watch the news."

Instead, she said, she decided to change her testimony after consulting with an attorney from a legal services program provided to SBC employees who told her she should reappear before the grand jury and amend her testimony to reflect what she had learned from her husband.

The day's testimony ended with three former co-workers attesting to Wiggan's character and describing her as a good friend and colleague whom they could not imagine lying, especially under oath.

"She absolutely is honest," said Glenda Stoops, a senior project manager at the phone company. "I can't see her doing anything that would jeopardize her relationship with God ... her family [or] friends."

The jury is expected to begin deliberations today.

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