Guests: George Parnham, Nelda Luce Blair, Leslie Crocker Snyder, Larry Kobilinsky, Clint Van Zandt, Pratap Chatterjee, Brian Boucher
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, the Texas mom who drowned her five children in a bathtub walks out of jail.
ABRAMS (voice-over): Andrea Yates behind bars for almost five years heads to a secure mental health facility to await a new trial. She is not, cannot go anywhere, so why are some making such a big deal about it?
His wife and baby were shot in their home. He‘s a no-show at their funeral. Now police seize Neil Entwistle‘s BMW. We will tell you what they were looking for.
And roommate wanted, little did he know the New York roommate he found on the Internet was also wanted in connection with the most lucrative jewel heist in San Francisco history.
The program about justice starts now.
ABRAMS: Hi everyone. First up on the docket she‘s out. Andrea Yates, the Texas mom who admits to drowning her five children, is out of jail. Yates paid 20,000 of the $200,000 for a bondsman to bail her out. She left the Harris County jail early this morning, but she‘s not free.
She had to go right to a secure state mental hospital until her trial begins in March. Yates is facing a second trial after her murder conviction was overturned when a Texas court of appeals ruled that a key prosecution witness gave false testimony.
“My Take”—what are all the provocateur talking heads twisting their knickers about? She is not going anywhere. She is not going to be on the street. She‘s at a secure mental hospital and only until March when her trial starts. Then it is back to county jail for Andrea Yates.
Furthermore, what‘s wrong with her being at a secure mental facility? There is no question she was severely psychologically ill. The prosecutors conceded it. And if the concern is that she‘s going to be released from a facility at some point they can just try her on the other two counts of murder that they never tried her on the first time.
So those doing all the complaining just need to relax. Joining me now on the phone is Andrea Yates‘ attorney, George Parnham, who was with her for today‘s transfer to the mental facility. Thanks a lot for coming on the program.
All right, what did she have to say on the way out of the prison?
GEORGE PARNHAM, ANDREA YATES‘ ATTORNEY (via phone): Well actually you would expect I can‘t comment on any conversation that we had. But I, you know I just attempted to prepare her for what she would face at the hospital facility, and I am on my way back having escorted her to that facility.
ABRAMS: All right...
PARNHAM: She is presently a patient.
ABRAMS: Well you can tell me about what things that she said in front of other people because those wouldn‘t be attorney/client privilege, right? So, did she say anything with other people around, et cetera, about how she felt about being there, how she felt about moving, et cetera?
PARNHAM: Well, you know not really. I can kind of give you my observation. I don‘t mind doing that, but...
ABRAMS: Go ahead.
PARNHAM: ... I may disagree a little bit with you about your interpretation of the attorney/client privilege waiver...
ABRAMS: Oh come on. You‘re not...
ABRAMS: ... you‘re not going to...
ABRAMS: Wait. Wait. You‘re not going to suggest...
ABRAMS: ... if she is in a room of 30 people and she starts talking about things, that anyone in that room couldn‘t then repeat it.
PARNHAM: Yes and I think most of the—of course, that never happened, but...
ABRAMS: Right. OK...
PARNHAM: ... the conversation that she did have was with her mental health professionals at the hospital and I was present and I certainly would prefer...
ABRAMS: All right. Fair enough...
PARNHAM: ... not to not go into those conversations...
ABRAMS: That‘s fine. That‘s fine. How did you raise the money?
PARNHAM: I‘m sorry.
ABRAMS: How did you raise the money to get her out?
PARNHAM: Well it‘s—that‘s an interesting point. It‘s been reported that the bond fee was $20,000 and that that fee was raised to pay a bondsman 10 percent. That is 10 percent of the (INAUDIBLE) each case. Actually what occurred after the hearing yesterday I was able to negotiate with this bondsman that I have known for a long time who is a good Samaritan, believe it or not, and he agreed to post bond at his cost, which is substantially less than the $20,000...
ABRAMS: How much?
PARNHAM: ... and he also agreed to accept that money within 10 days to two weeks. So now I‘m in the process of raising that figure that I don‘t want to divulge, but it‘s single—it‘s not anywhere close to 20,000 and that will take care of that issue.
ABRAMS: And so the bondsman is doing this because he believes in the cause? I mean it‘s just interesting to hear—I had never heard about a bondsman sort of doing it for the cause.
PARNHAM: You‘re—I am so sorry. Because I am driving I did not hear...
ABRAMS: All right.
PARNHAM: I did not hear that question. Could you...
PARNHAM: ... repeat...
ABRAMS: Yes, I can. Real quick—I was just saying—I was just—you know I was just making a comment about the bondsman doing it for the cause, but it sounds like we don‘t have a great connection, so George Parnham, I will say thank you to you for coming back on the program. As always, we appreciate it.
PARNHAM: I‘m sorry.
ABRAMS: That‘s OK.
ABRAMS: Joining me now former Montgomery County, Texas prosecutor Nelda Luce Blair and Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder, a retired New York state justice. Thanks to both of you for coming on the program.
All right, Ms. Blair, what is the big deal here? I mean this is a woman who the prosecutors conceded again and again at the trial was severely psychologically ill. They said she did not fit the Texas definition, which I think that they‘re right, of—that she couldn‘t understand right from wrong. She probably did. But what is the big deal now that the case has been overturned that she‘s going to a mental health facility for a month and a half.
NELDA LUCE BLAIR, FORMER TEXAS PROSECUTOR: It‘s very simple. The big deal is there are five dead babies in her wake. And any other mass murderer would not be out on bail. Granted, she‘s not out in the general public, but she is not legally bound to stay at that mental facility and there is a possibility...
ABRAMS: Yes she is.
BLAIR: ... she could be out.
ABRAMS: No, the judge has said that if she leaves the facility the bail is withdrawn.
BLAIR: That‘s right and it takes several days for that to happen. Don‘t you know that there‘s a lot of things that could happen over a period of days? And that woman did a lot of things, lest we forget, once she killed those babies to prove that she knew it was wrong. Like, calling the police.
ABRAMS: Look, as I just said, I mean I think that it‘s a tough argument to make that under Texas law she didn‘t understand that what she did was wrong. But that‘s not the question Leslie Crocker Snyder that I think should be being asked right now. These people are sort of going crazy about she has been released. She is not going anywhere.
LESLIE CROCKER SNYDER, RETIRED NY STATE JUDGE: I think their position is ridiculous. She is confined to a mental hospital. In my view she should always have been confined for life or for a very long period of time to a mental hospital. This is a woman who is suicidal. She attempted suicide.
She is severely psychotic. And I think maybe there is something wrong with Texas law. She suffered apparently, according to the testimony, as I recall it, from severe postpartum depression. I was a former prosecutor, as you know, for many years, frequently take the prosecutor‘s side. I think that the crime is absolutely horrible but this woman should be confined to a mental hospital and receive mental help and again, let‘s reexamine Texas law.
ABRAMS: All right, but apart from reexamining Texas law, Ms. Blair, would you say that there are any cases where you would concede that a woman might have been so psychotic such that she should be confined to a mental institution as opposed to a prison?
BLAIR: Absolutely. If she thought that what she was doing was the right thing at the time, if she did not know that it was wrong. Every thing in this case, every piece of evidence points to the fact that Andrea Yates knew it was wrong. She knew what she was doing was not the right thing to do.
She was not so psychotic that she felt she was doing the right thing to kill her children. And once we get past that and realize that a jury thought that same thing putting her...
ABRAMS: But the jury felt sorry for her.
BLAIR: ... putting her in a mental institution is not—is actually a great idea committing her, but she is not committed. She is not legally bound...
SNYDER: You know I don‘t understand your point about if she were to leave nothing could be done because the prosecutor could—the hospital would report it. The prosecutor would immediately go to the judge. The judge would issue a warrant and the woman would be picked up. Everyone in the country knows who Andrea Yates is.
What is she going to do? This woman is severely mentally ill. Even by the prosecutions‘ own admissions at the trial. They simply—you all simply argue that technically speaking under Texas law, and I am not saying it‘s not an important technicality that she knew the difference between right and wrong. My feeling is that this is by everyone‘s admission a severely mentally ill woman. She‘s on severe doses of anti-psychotic medicine. And although the crime is horrible, we should be confining someone like this in a mental institution and not a jail.
ABRAMS: All right.
BLAIR: Would you say the same about someone who tried to assassinate a president?
SNYDER: Not at all, but I think it would depend...
BLAIR: My point exactly.
SNYDER: Well, no, I don‘t think it is your point.
ABRAMS: But you know what? But look, the thing about assassinating a president—I mean I have to tell you I have a lot more sympathy in a weird way for Andrea Yates than I do for Hinckley. I mean and again, when I say sympathy, let‘s be—I want to be real careful about how I phrase that term. Because I don‘t think she should ever be walking free. I think that if they send her to a mental institution and the concern is going to get out, they try her on the other two cases that they didn‘t try her on and she goes right back to prison.
SNYDER: Dan, they should be able to work out a plea agreement where she voluntarily agrees to be confined to a mental institution, a secure mental institution...
ABRAMS: Prosecutors won‘t do it.
SNYDER: Well I‘m saying I think they should. Where she will agree to be confined to a secure mental institution for a minimum of 25 years. Something like that is a fair disposition. She will be locked up, but she will get treatment. Maybe she can be cured. I have no idea about that. But this is appropriate treatment despite the horribleness of the crime...
ABRAMS: What do you make of that Ms. Blair?
BLAIR: I say number one she can‘t be confined for a simple 25 years under her own commitment. If she commits herself, she can un-commit, basically let herself out. And that is not going to work. If a doctor says yes, she is finally cured and she gets out, what‘s to stop her from having and killing more children?
SNYDER: Well because I think a plea agreement can be structured so that even if someone is willing to say she‘s cured and she could leave a mental institution, that if she does so before 25 years under the conditions of the plea agreement she is remanded to jail. There are ways to do creative sentencing. I was a judge for 20 years and you can do it because your goal as a prosecutor and a judge should be to do the right thing. And the right thing in this case in my opinion most respectfully is to confine this woman to a mental institution...
BLAIR: And are there any other mass murderers that you feel that way about?
SNYDER: Oh I‘m sure there are, but not very many...
BLAIR: I would say none...
BLAIR: ... because she is a mother and that is the reason. You know just because she killed her children does not mean she‘s insane.
ABRAMS: Well no, that‘s true, but this is...
SNYDER: This is not exactly...
ABRAMS: Hang on. This is the interview with Andrea Yates from prison talking about the fact that she thought that her children would go to hell if she didn‘t kill them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you had not taken their lives, what do you think would happen to them?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I guess they would have continued stumbling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And where would they end up?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hell.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In hell?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Now it‘s not, Ms. Blair, that you don‘t believe that, right? You‘re not suggesting she‘s making it up. You‘re just saying it‘s not enough?
BLAIR: I believe that she felt that way after she killed them. I‘m not sure that she felt that way before she killed them.
ABRAMS: So you think her goal in killing them was just to get rid of the kids because she didn‘t like them.
BLAIR: I honestly have asked myself that since the day I heard about this. I was there the day that she was arrested. And I‘ve always wondered why. I think we all wonder why and we don‘t know that. But the fact that she has several reasons after the fact for having done it, but she called her husband, called the cops and said I‘ve done a bad thing the minute she killed them says so much.
SNYDER: Well you know let‘s contrast. This kind of case was a case of continuing child abuse and death like in the Nixzmary Brown case or a number of the cases we have seen here. Those are horrible, deliberate, continuing crimes. Those people should get jail for life at the very least. Here we have someone who by everyone‘s admission, both sides, was severely psychotic, was suicidal, had suffered from extreme depression. This is a horrible, horrible crime but the punishment should fit the situation.
ABRAMS: Ms. Blair, let me see if you disagree with what Rusty Yates said on this program, her husband, last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSTY YATES, ANDREA YATES‘ HUSBAND: Imprisoning or killing a woman who suffers from postpartum psychosis and does something wrong you know is in no way going to prevent another woman from developing psychosis too. You know, so it‘s not preventive. It‘s just cruel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: All right, Ms. Blair, it‘s been two against one. You get the final word.
BLAIR: I have to disagree with that. Not only may it prevent someone from actually going that far, but it also punishes the crime.
ABRAMS: All right, Nelda Luce Blair, Leslie Crocker Snyder, two great guests, really good topic, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
BLAIR: Thank you.
SNYDER: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Coming up, still no sign of Neil Entwistle. His wife and baby daughter found murdered in their home, but police are now searching his BMW. Just what are they hoping to find?
And a Pentagon contractor pleads guilty admitting he stole more than two million taxpayer dollars that were supposed to be used to rebuild Iraq. Instead, he spent it on a new Porsche, a Lexus, a diamond. How does this stuff happen?
Plus, looking for a roommate? Be careful who you choose. This guy moved in. His roommate only found out months later he was wanted for one of the biggest jewelry heists in San Francisco history.
Your e-mails email@example.com. Please include your name and where you‘re writing from. I respond at the end of the show.
ABRAMS: We‘re back. There was a memorial today in England for Rachel and Lillian Entwistle, the mother and 9-month-old bay killed in Massachusetts over a week ago. Remember Rachel‘s husband Neil is British. The couple lived there for a few years and Neil has now been in England since the bodies were discovered, refusing to come back to the U.S.
He remains a person of interest in the case. Neil Entwistle missed his wife and daughter‘s funeral in Massachusetts yesterday. It‘s not clear whether he was invited to today‘s memorial, but he didn‘t show up either. Police have searched the home twice and they recently got a search warrant to search his car, a BMW SUV that was parked at Boston‘s Logan Airport. It seems that he left on the Saturday morning and she died sometime between Thursday and Sunday.
Joining me now a forensic examiner and professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice Larry Kobilinsky and MSNBC analyst and former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt who writes a column for our Web site.
All right, Larry, what are they looking for in the car?
LARRY KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC EXAMINER: Well we have another crime scene. In addition to the house we have the car. Now, I am not implying that there‘s any evidence that he—Neil committed the crime, but there is a possibility if he did commit the crime that he transferred some physical evidence from the house to the car.
And I am talking about gunshot residue and possibly blood. Clearly, finding other kinds of evidence would not be that probative because he was in the car.
KOBILINSKY: She was in the car, but that kind of gunshot residue transfer, you know when you shoot a gun, you‘ve got gunshot residue on your clothing, on your hands, and that can be transferred to the steering wheel of a car or the seat.
ABRAMS: Clint, can you assess whether particular gunshot residue matches a particular gun?
CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Well I think and again this is kind of Larry‘s expertise...
ABRAMS: All right, let me throw that one back at Larry...
KOBILINSKY: The answer is no.
ABRAMS: You can‘t?
KOBILINSKY: You cannot. But of course, gunshot residue is very specific and you can tell that somebody fired a gun.
ABRAMS: Right, but so—I mean you know his defense could be and let‘s assume for a moment just for the sake of discussion that they would find or they do find some sort of gunshot residue...
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
ABRAMS: ... he could say well you know OK, so my stepfather had guns. He had been in the car many times. I shot a gun or two with him on occasion. What‘s the big deal?
KOBILINSKY: I totally agree. You‘re right. It‘s circumstantial. On the other hand, if they find her blood in the vehicle, that‘s another story.
ABRAMS: Yes and Clint, it would depend on how the blood is found because as Larry points out, this is the difficulty in these spouse investigations is that her DNA is going to be all over the house. Her DNA is going to be in the car and so the blood would really have to be blood spatter or something unusual—Clint.
VAN ZANDT: Yes, is breaking up my sound a little bit, Dan. Yes, the blood splatter, you know, you‘re still—you can find a spent round in the car that came from the weapon. You could find a weapon itself. And the other thing, Dan, let‘s say hypothetically Neil is the one responsible for this and he has the gun and he took it somewhere and got rid it of it.
You know part of the forensic examination is going to be looking under the car. What type of mud? What type of clay? What type of grass to suggest some area he might have gone to en route to the airport to dispose of the gun. All of that‘s going to be important for the investigators when they start to take this car apart.
ABRAMS: Clint, what do you make of the crime scene? And we talked about this before...
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
ABRAMS: ... but I still think that is so crucial. I mean the fact that it seems it was almost a bloodless crime scene and...
ABRAMS: ... yet, both baby and mother were shot.
VAN ZANDT: Yes, I think it is too. You know most of us stand back and say well it couldn‘t be the father. Who would kill his wife plus his child and of course, we‘ve got enough examples of that in recent history to answer that question. The challenge comes who can get in and out of the house when it was locked?
Realize Dan, they had only been in the house 10 days. So even if somebody had targeted them, how would they have found them in the 10 days? Who could have got in and out of that house to have done this? The challenge is going to be, of course, they—if they were killed on a Thursday, their bodies weren‘t found until Sunday and three different searches had taken place. Nobody picked up the covers and said I wonder what‘s under this lump in the bed.
ABRAMS: Larry, let me ask you about the stepfather‘s weapons. There‘s been a report in the Boston papers about how the stepfather had a gun collection. OK, that in and of itself is not a big deal to me. They also point out that the stepfather didn‘t have any weapons missing.
OK, so what‘s the big deal? They say—the paper out there is saying well it‘s possible then that he used one of the weapons and then returned it. Would that be something that would be easy to assess days later?
KOBILINSKY: It probably would be. Of course, the ballistics tests would tell us definitely if a small-caliber handgun had been fired. And of course they could match up the bullet or the shell casing with the weapon. So once they examine these handguns they would know for sure. They have got the bullets. I think they may have the shell casing, so that will be answered.
ABRAMS: Clint, what does it mean that they wanted a search warrant for Neil Entwistle‘s car and they got it?
VAN ZANDT: Yes, well you know part of it is, as you well know, you got to have probable cause to search the car. So what is the reason that law enforcement has to pick that—to hook that car to take it to a crime lab and start taking it apart?
The last thing you want to do is go conduct a search, find a gun on the front seat and then realize your search warrant is no good. So the law enforcement has got a challenge ahead of them. They‘ve really got to cross their T‘s and dot their I‘s on this one. They don‘t want to lose the whole case when it might evolve around one good search or bad search.
ABRAMS: Here is Martha Coakley, the D.A. from Middlesex County, on this program last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTHA COAKLEY, MIDDLESEX COUNTY D.A.: They found under the covers the mother and daughter and not obvious signs of violence. In other words, there was not blood on the sheets. And in fact until the M.E. and the technicians arrived it was not clear how they had died. There did appear to be at least one bullet in the baby. It was only upon autopsy completed yesterday the M.E. found the gunshot wound to Rachel‘s head, which he deemed to be the cause of death.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: That was from last week. All right, Larry, the key to the crime scene is what?
KOBILINSKY: Well it‘s a combination of crime scene evidence and the autopsy. Clearly, there‘s no weapon yet. Hopefully they will find that. They have got to put the whole thing together, but good law enforcement investigation find the motive. Make sure everything hooks up correctly to reconstruct the events.
ABRAMS: Yes, I got to—I‘m—regardless of guilt, innocence I am absolutely disturbed about the fact that Neil Entwistle did not come home...
VAN ZANDT: Absolutely.
ABRAMS: ... to his wife and baby‘s funeral or memorial service. You can—we can sit here and speculate about whether that‘s incriminating or not, I just think it‘s awful regardless...
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
ABRAMS: All right, Larry Kobilinsky, Clint Van Zandt, thanks a lot.
VAN ZANDT: Thanks, Dan.
ABRAMS: Coming up, a Pentagon contractor pleads guilty to stealing millions that was supposed to go to rebuilding Iraq; instead he spent it on more important things like sports cars and watches. But get this; the guy was a convicted felon, so why was he doling out the cash in Iraq in the first place?
And the story of how a New Yorker found out his roommate was wanted for one of the biggest jewel heists in San Francisco history. He joins us.
And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to help find missing sex offenders before they strike. Our search today is in Michigan.
Authorities are looking for Jamaal Hinton. He‘s 27, five-nine, 143, was convicted of criminal sexual conduct and a parole violation warrant has been issued for him. If you‘ve got any information on his whereabouts, that‘s the number. They‘re looking for him, 866-501-SORT.
Be right back.
ABRAMS: Coming up, a Defense Department contractor pleads guilty to stealing more than two million taxpayer dollars that was supposed to be used to rebuild Iraq. He bought a Porsche, fancy watches and a whole lot more. How does this happen? First the headlines.
ABRAMS: He was accused of taking millions of taxpayer dollars that were supposed to help rebuild Iraq. Today Robert Stein is facing up to 30 years in prison on a quarter million dollar fine. Stein pled guilty to bribery and conspiracy for stealing more than two million bucks, taking bribes worth more than a million more. But here‘s what I don‘t get.
Stein had been convicted of credit card fraud in 1996. Still, he was hired by defense contractor S&K Technologies and made responsible for $82 million in reconstruction funds. According to his plea, Stein had conspired with five Reserve U.S. Army officers to funnel rebuilding projects to a U.S. businessman who allegedly kicked back bribes, tens of thousands in cash, cars, watches, even sexual favors from women in a Baghdad villa. This isn‘t the only scandal like this out there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGER CRUZ, COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY: And we don‘t believe this will be the last charge that will be brought. We believe that there will be others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Wow. Pratap Chatterjee is a journalist and executive editor of the non-profit group CorpWatch and the author of “Iraq, Inc.: A Profitable Occupation”.
Thanks a lot for coming on the program. Appreciate it. All right, I got to ask you the bottom line and it‘s a broad one, how does this happen?
PRATAP CHATTERJEE, EXEC. DIRECTOR CORPWATCH: Well part of the reason is the U.S. government subcontracted a lot of this work. Almost everything was run by companies. There was no oversight. There was a lot of chaos. And you have to understand it was the middle of a war. So a lot of people either made mistakes.
Other people as in the case of Robert Stein just outright stole money. And as this courts have said (INAUDIBLE) number of these cases, so Stein himself worked for this company, S&K Technologies, but—and they hadn‘t checked into his background.
CHATTERJEE: It was incredibly common. There were people who was hired, private interrogators who were hired to work in Abu Ghraib on the basis of a phone call. No resumes were sent in. People just showed up. If you were in the right place at the right time you got a job...
ABRAMS: Let me ask you about the money, all right. The $82 million, how does that work? I mean does the government say to S&K here‘s $82 million. We need you to basically go build a school and a couple of other things and then get back to us or is there someone who‘s supposed to be watching exactly what happens to that money?
CHATTERJEE: Well it‘s a little complex, but let me break it down this way. He worked for S&K Technologies and he worked—and his job was to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority (INAUDIBLE) so S&K was not in charge of $82 million.
ABRAMS: All right.
CHATTERJEE: And there are rules that are intended to ensure that the money doesn‘t get wasted. So for example, he was only given authority to spend up to $500,000. So when he wanted to give contracts to his friend Philip Bloom, he broke it up into 11 contracts for $498,000 each.
ABRAMS: But who‘s watching? I mean I understand that there are ways to get around certain rules, but I just want to know is there supposed to be someone who is assigned to say there is this $82 million out there and there is this guy Stein who is handing it out. Who‘s watching?
CHATTERJEE: He was the guy in charge of watching how the money was spent. This is—the problem is it oftentimes...
ABRAMS: It‘s like one of those things where you say I want to talk to the manager and they say you‘re talking to him.
CHATTERJEE: Exactly. So he had—and this is extremely common. Halliburton, for example, had this guy (INAUDIBLE) working in Kuwait and he was in charge of handing out contracts for fuel supplies. And he got two bids, one for $1.5 million, one for $1.7 million. He altered the contract to make them for five and a half and $6.2 million. And so then headquarters back in Rock Island, Illinois said well we‘ll take the lower bid for $5 ½ million and then the company kicked him back $1 million. He‘s now also facing similar charges.
ABRAMS: Here‘s from the plea. Stein solicited secret employment or potential future employment, business or first-class tickets, watches and other jewelry, alcohol, cigars, sexual favors from women provided by Bloom at his villa in Baghdad and money laundering services.
So, again, what you are telling me is that this individual, who had been a convicted felon for credit card scams, had no one who was assigned to watching how he doled out $82 million of taxpayer money that was supposed to go to rebuilding Iraq?
CHATTERJEE: Well that‘s not entirely true because there were auditors who were supposed to check on the money...
ABRAMS: So what happened to that?
CHATTERJEE: ... and there was a chain of command, but he was basically the guy—he was the top official in his department, so he was in charge effectively...
ABRAMS: But what about the auditors? What about—why was—I mean is that the way he was ultimately caught?
CHATTERJEE: That is the way—well there were a couple of different ways that people have been caught here. Whistleblowers, people who saw what happened and didn‘t like what happened and there is a company in Houston, Eagle Global Logistics that was adding money on for shipping to Baghdad and somebody in the company blew the whistle.
CHATTERJEE: So oftentimes it‘s whistleblowers, people who are not corrupt. And the other problem is of course the auditors do eventually catch up. The money that he was doling out, a lot of this was Iraq‘s own money. There were less controls on this...
CHATTERJEE: ... (INAUDIBLE) money, for example, appropriated by Congress there‘s a lot more paperwork. This money was kept literally—there was $2 million in bathroom safes. There is a guy, Frank Willis, his job was giving away (INAUDIBLE) company that was in charge of guarding Baghdad airport came and said we need $2 million. He went down to the basement; brought $2 million up in shrink-wrap plastic bricks. There was so much money, Willis told me, they played football with it.
So money was literally spilling all over the place. It‘s taking this money from Saddam Hussein‘s safes. They had gotten money from Iraq‘s oil revenues. They were shipping $2 billion in one day from New Jersey of Iraq‘s oil revenues...
CHATTERJEE: ... to Iraq and at one point one of the officials said look, next week there is a Monday holiday. Why don‘t you send me $3 billion? The Treasury officials in charge...
CHATTERJEE: ... said is a little extra change, an extra $1 billion.
This is the largest sum of money...
CHATTERJEE: ... moved in history.
ABRAMS: All right. Well look, it‘s a good thing this guy got caught. Hopefully, it will send a message to some of these other people out there who will say oh boy, they‘re going to catch us, but we will see. All right. Pratap Chatterjee thanks a lot for coming on the program.
CHATTERJEE: Thanks for having me, Dan.
ABRAMS: Appreciate it. Coming up, imagine finding out your roommate was featured on “America‘s Most Wanted”. That happened to our next guest. He‘ll tell us how he pieced it all together finally.
And later, on the second night of the job, newly confirmed Justice Samuel Alito breaks from the conservative justices on the court already and rules to delay the execution of a death row inmate. Does this mean he fooled everyone and is really a closet liberal? My “Closing Argument” coming up.
ABRAMS: Coming up, he finds a roommate on the Web.
ABRAMS: Brian Boucher was looking for a roommate, so like many people he posted an ad on the Web sites Craigslist to find someone willing to share the rent on his one-bedroom Manhattan apartment. He thought he‘d found a match when a guy named Don seemed to get along with his cats and pay the rent on time began sharing his apartment.
But something wasn‘t right. Don would leave for long periods of time without letting Brian know and then after four months Brian came home to find Don‘s room and just Don‘s room ransacked, and Don was nowhere to be found. Shortly after that, Brian learned Don had been stealing and recording Brian‘s personal information and eventually that Don had actually been profiled on “America‘s Most Wanted”.
Joining us now is Brian Boucher, who recounts this bizarre roommate experience in this week‘s “New York” magazine. Brian thanks a lot for coming on the program. We appreciate it.
BRIAN BOUCHER, SHARED APARTMENT WITH A FUGITIVE: Thanks for having me.
ABRAMS: Let‘s take it from the beginning. So you interview this guy and you think what?
BOUCHER: He seemed like a regular guy. The conversation was relaxed.
Nobody jumping in when there was a silence for a couple of minutes.
ABRAMS: Better than other people you‘d interviewed, right? I mean he was the best match of the people you met?
BOUCHER: You know he was the first person to come and look at the apartment. Other people weren‘t able to come or they found another place before we met. And so he was actually the only person I interviewed and I thought we hit it off well.
ABRAMS: At what point do you start thinking that maybe something is at least off?
BOUCHER: The long absences unannounced I wasn‘t so crazy about, but I thought well, he doesn‘t report to me. It‘s his business. After the break-in, when I got home to find his room ransacked and even you know a few dollars in my top drawer untouched and my stereo and my computer there, I really thought this is not normal.
ABRAMS: So you‘re thinking he‘s like a spy or a terrorist or something at this point?
BOUCHER: Exactly. My fantasies went straight to al Qaeda. I thought you know somebody came to get the microfilm or something. I was terrified and I thought this guy is definitely a spy or something similarly dramatic.
ABRAMS: Did you call the police at that time?
BOUCHER: I did. I called 911 and two police came and they said where is your roommate and at that point I hadn‘t seen him in awhile. It was during one of his absences. So they said for all we know it might have been your roommate. There‘s no crime here. Talk to him about it when you see him.
ABRAMS: All right and then what happens next? I mean then some time passes, right?
BOUCHER: A little time passed. And then he resurfaced ironically enough on Christmas Eve 2003, saying he was back from the West Coast where he had been visiting a relative. And when I heard his voice on the phone I thought OK, I must be crazy. He‘s the regular one. He‘s back in the city, so I met up with him the next day and let him back into the apartment. I had changed the locks, of course.
ABRAMS: And what did he say about the break-in?
BOUCHER: He had a few theories. He thought it was—well he had one theory, sorry. He thought it was our next-door neighbor who was uncommonly interested in my lodger. The two of them got acquainted and my neighbor had a key because he would feed my cats when I went away, so he hoodwinked me into thinking that it was the neighbor.
ABRAMS: How did you then realize that he was taking down all of your personal information, taking notes about the names of your friends, et cetera?
BOUCHER: That happened a few months later when he disappeared again in June and it was only after rent day had come and gone, two more weeks passed, and I thought OK, this guy is not coming back. And I went into the room and packed up his things and hidden in the bed found a manila file folder and looked in and immediately saw the files that he had been keeping on me.
ABRAMS: And what was in those files?
BOUCHER: It started with preapproved credit card offers that I had gotten in the mail that I had torn up and thrown in the trash, which he had fished out of the trash and kept on file. Then on a loose-leaf sheet of paper there was all my current credit card information. He had my Social Security number, the name and address of my employer copied from a pay stub, my mother‘s maiden name, the date that my parents had been married, which I couldn‘t have told you off the top of my head.
ABRAMS: Wow. And at that point you are scared, right?
BOUCHER: Very scared. Indeed, yes, it was terrifying...
BOUCHER: ... and I felt like an idiot. I felt like I brought this guy in to help me save a few dollars and who knows what I might have lost in the process.
ABRAMS: But then you had to do your own sleuthing for a while, right, to figure out who he was?
BOUCHER: That‘s right. I also found correspondence from JetBlue addressed to somebody by a different name, which was another victim in his identify theft. I also found photocopied Social Security cards and drivers licenses from other people who were not the name that he gave me.
I found nothing under the name that he gave me, which was John Williams. It seems very funny in retrospect and finally, it was only when I got into his computer through the help of a friend and found the sign-in name, which was Dino Smith and Smith, of course, seemed like such a generic name. I thought this can‘t possibly be his actual name and just sort of on a whim I Goggled Dino Smith and that was when I found out who I really had been living with.
ABRAMS: So you put in Dino Smith into Google and what pops up?
BOUCHER: The first link was “America‘s Most Wanted” Web site.
ABRAMS: And he was wanted for a huge jewel heist?
BOUCHER: That‘s right. Lang Antique and Estate Jewelry in the Union Square neighborhood in San Francisco. They had made off with I think estimates that I read varied from six to $10 million of antique and estate jewelry.
ABRAMS: Wow. He also had a long criminal record before that, correct?
BOUCHER: That‘s correct.
ABRAMS: And then you were—you—obviously the authorities from San Francisco were receptive to hearing from you...
BOUCHER: They were very interested to hear about this and they came and took a very close look at the apartment.
ABRAMS: And then you ended up having to testify against him?
BOUCHER: Correct. Correct. I went and testified that the evidence that I had found was turned over to the police exactly as I had found it. The defense wanted to argue that I was an agent of the San Francisco Police and that I had created the evidence on the computer.
ABRAMS: Yes, we deal with that stuff every day on this program, all sorts of arguments like that in terms of the defense. All right, so now you‘re going—did you find a new roommate?
BOUCHER: I did. In fact, I found some terrific new roommates...
ABRAMS: Did you do a background check?
BOUCHER: I did not do a background check or a credit check. I trusted my instincts again. I know, call me crazy.
ABRAMS: You went back to the same place, to Craigslist?
BOUCHER: I went back to Craigslist. Craigslist is not the problem.
ABRAMS: Brian Boucher, it‘s a fascinating article. Well done. Thank you very much for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
BOUCHER: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Coming up, Justice Samuel Alito votes against his conservative colleagues in his first Supreme Court decision. So does that mean he‘s going to turn into a closet liberal? It‘s my “Closing Argument”.
And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to help find missing sex offenders before they strike. We continue our search in Michigan.
Looking for Reed Hockensmith, he‘s 25, six-two, 200 pounds. He was convicted of criminal sexual conduct. He‘s been issued a felony warrant for failure to register as a sex offender. If you‘ve got any information on his whereabouts, there‘s the number, 866-501-SORT.
Be right back.
ABRAMS: My “Closing Argument”—partisans beware. The news that new Justice Samuel Alito—quote—“split with conservatives” in his first decision is not as seismic as some would like to believe. Yes, Alito agreed to postpone the execution of Missouri death row inmate Michael Taylor, against the wishes of three of his conservative colleagues. Remember, this came only after the Supreme Court agreed last week to decide how inmates can challenge the method of their execution. Taylor was scheduled to die by lethal injection. He says it‘s cruel and unusual punishment. The conservatives Scalia, Thomas, Roberts thought Taylor‘s execution should go forward.
Now some liberals are looking at this as a ray of hope. Some conservatives prematurely devastated. One conservative blogger I read this morning already started with the Souter two business, referring to Justice David Souter, who was nominated by President Bush‘s father, ended up taking more centrist and liberal positions than conservatives would have liked.
Please, this really means very little. I‘m still betting even on most death penalty cases Alito will side with the conservatives. Here we‘re just talking about delaying the execution until the legal issues are resolved. “Independent Newspaper Review” concluded that Judge Alito‘s death penalty opinions put him among the third circuit‘s most conservative jurists when it came to the death penalty.
Let‘s not blow this out of proportion. Last night‘s decision was one tiny piece of what will become many years of Alito jurisprudence and not a particularly surprising or controversial ruling (INAUDIBLE).
Coming up, a congressman‘s wife and an anti-war activist kept out of the State of the Union because of their shirts. I said glad they were not treated differently based on the content of the message on their shirts. Many of you saying I don‘t have the facts right. Coming up.
ABRAMS: I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”. Last night in my “Closing Argument” Beverly Young, the wife of Republican Congressman Bill Young, and anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan both kept out of the State of the Union by Capitol Police because of political messages on their shirts. Young‘s shirt said support the troops, defending our freedom. Sheehan‘s read 225 dead, how many more. I said they never should have been kept out because of that, but that it‘s—quote—“reassuring to see the Capitol Police did not treat the women differently based on the content of the message on their shirts”—unquote.
Many of you writing in about this. Christopher Leahy writes, “They were treated differently. Ms. Young was removed, but not arrested. Ms. Sheehan was removed and arrested.”
Pam Dawn, “Ms. Sheehan was handcuffed and arrested while Ms. Young was just escorted out. Since Ms. Young‘s shirt could be interpreted as pro Bush and Ms. Sheehan‘s as anti-Bush, I find it disturbing that their treatment was quite different.”
Well Pam, Christopher and the rest of you who wrote in on this, a lot of you, I repeat, there is nothing to demonstrate. They were treated differently based on the content of the message on their shirts. Young apparently left voluntarily, after someone told her the shirt was probably a violation. She went out, spoke to officers outside who then refused to let her back in.
Sheehan was inside the building when she was arrested and taken out. The charges against her dropped. Now I know. Many of you are going to remain convinced the message was the reason Sheehan was arrested, but the facts were different as well in the two cases and there‘s nothing to substantiate the claim that the message had any impact regardless. The police have recognized their mistakes with regard to both.
But Mike Petroski in Germantown, Maryland attacks me from the other side. “This is about what‘s appropriate. I guess you would think it would be OK to protest at the Bush daughters‘ weddings too, right?”
What? Mike, what are you going to be doing the fashion analysis there at the wedding for determining what‘s a protest and what‘s not? I would assume they‘d be having a private wedding in a private place. That‘s very different and as I said certain restrictions on protests must be in place in even certain public places.
From Shamong Township, New Jersey, Bromley Billmeyer, “The only thing inappropriate was the removal of the congressman‘s wife. Her shirt was one of support, not protest. Cindy Sheehan‘s was one of protest.”
And who becomes the judge of that, Bromley? What is protest? What‘s support? Sheehan would claim she‘s supporting the troops too. I sure don‘t want the government making that decision.
Tuesday night in my “Closing Argument” I said I‘ve had it with criminal defense attorneys blaming the media for their clients‘ problems. Last night I said I don‘t believe there‘s a single modern case where a criminal defendant was convicted because of the media coverage as opposed to the evidence and certainly there isn‘t one where the person was falsely convicted.
A lot of you writing in about one case. Gregory Theobald in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, “You stated that you are not aware of any defendants who were convicted by the media. I ask you to consider the American Taliban case.”
Columbia, Maryland, Bob Ardinger, “On your show Wednesday you stated the media has never caused a false conviction of any defendant. What about American Taliban John Walker Lindh?”
Let‘s see. He pled guilty after being caught fighting with the Taliban. You can complain about his sentence, but how was he falsely convicted if he pled guilty?
Finally, lawyers for Vice President Cheney‘s former chief of staff, “Scooter” Libby, claimed that if Libby said anything that was not true to the grand jury or the FBI, it was because he was busy with more important matters, like protecting the country.
Kevin in New York, “If the strategy works for Mr. Libby, I‘m going to try it myself. I‘ll say I forgot to pay my taxes because I‘ve been so worried about the situation in Iraq.”
Your e-mails abramsreport—one word -- @msnbc.com. We go through them at the end of the show.
Tomorrow on the program, we have got a continuing series, you know these “Dateline” undercover operations where Chris Hansen goes and they talk online with these guys who think they‘re coming over to meet a young girl or young boy.
They got round three and this time they got the cops involved.
They‘re waiting outside. We‘re going to have that on tomorrow‘s show.
“HARDBALL” up next. I‘ll see you tomorrow.
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