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'The Abrams Report' for May 23

Read the transcript to the Monday show

Guest:  Dave Turner, Howard Miller, Ronald Richards, Daniel Horowitz, Susan Filan, Michael Shelby, Peter Elliott

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up—new developments in the search for that missing Idaho brother and sister.  Their mother found murdered along with one of their brothers in the home. 


ABRAMS (voice-over):  The victim‘s father says he was told he failed part of a lie detector test and understands why he‘s a possible suspect, but authorities insist he‘s not. 

And in their final days, Michael Jackson‘s lawyers go on the offensive, trying to prove the accuser‘s mother is a welfare cheat, motivated by money to go after Michael Jackson.  And it‘s sounding like Jackson will not take the stand in his own defense.  Why? 

Plus, police searching for this lawyer accused of raping a 4-month-old infant.  They think he may be on the loose trolling sex clubs in the New York area.

The program about justice starts now.  


ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket, new details in the Idaho manhunt for two missing children.  Their mother found dead in the home along with another one of her sons and her boyfriend.  The tips pouring in—new leads helping police narrow their focus in locating Dylan and Shasta Groene.


CAPT. BEN WOLFINGER, KOOTENAI CTY., ID SHERIFF‘S DEPT.:  They are following viable leads, which tells me they are focusing a little bit.  The other nice advantage we have right now is that there—also the profilers here, which also can help direct that investigation. 


ABRAMS:  Dylan and Shasta Groene‘s mother, brother and the mother‘s boyfriend were last seen at a barbecue a week ago Sunday before they were found bound, gagged, brutally beaten, murdered inside their home.  Dylan and Shasta, though, have been missing.  The children‘s father, Steve Groene, thinks police may be looking at him, even though the authorities have repeatedly said he‘s not a suspect or even a person of interest in the murders. 

In an interview this weekend, Groene said he volunteered to take a polygraph and DNA test, but was told he failed part of the polygraph.  He also revealed he had an argument with the children‘s mother two days before she was murdered and that no one can confirm his whereabouts on the night of the murders. 

He explained.  Quote—“It‘s pretty devastating to have to hear somebody say they think you know something about this.  The polygraph agent said to me Steve I have to tell you I have doubts.  You haven‘t passed portions of this polygraph.  He basically said you know something about the whereabouts of your children.  I think you need to tell us now and obviously I said no way man, no way man.”  That was on FOX.

And we‘re learning more about what happened on the night of the murders.  Toxicology reports show Brenda Groene and her boyfriend tested positive for illicit drugs.  Police believe Dylan and Shasta were inside the home at the time of the murders.  They‘ve also said today that they found evidence in every room of the house. 

Dave Turner, crime reporter for the “Coeur d‘Alene Press” there joins us with more on today‘s new information.  All right, thanks a lot for coming on the program.  We appreciate it.  So what do you make of this new revolution that the authorities now confirming that the two children were inside the house.  They seem to be making it seem like that‘s no big deal. 

DAVE TURNER, CRIME REPORTER, “COEUR D‘ALENE PRESS”:  Well that‘s because they‘ve pretty much said from the beginning that they believe that the children were no place else but in the house at the time this murder must have happened, sometime late evening Sunday or some time on Monday.  They were never at school, so they were—where else would they be? 

ABRAMS:  And what else have you—what else do you think is important that we have learned in the last 24 hours?

TURNER:  Well I think what‘s important is that they seem to be going

all out and trying to eliminate suspects specifically with Steve Groene, he

·         after he was quite upset after his polygraph, he seemed yesterday and upset that they would think that he would have something to do with the disappearance of his children.  But the Sheriff‘s Department is claiming that it‘s—that he is distraught and that could have affected the polygraph. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, let me play a piece of sound where they talked about that very issue. 


WOLFINGER:  Steve Groene‘s obviously very distraught and he‘s very upset.  Lie detectors are not foolproof.  We know that, otherwise the courts would accept them wholeheartedly.  They‘re an investigative tool and there‘s no evidence linking Steve Groene to this crime to make him a suspect or person of interest. 


ABRAMS:  All right.  So that‘s where it stands right now.  Mr. Turner, if you could just stand by for a moment.  I want to bring in to talk about this, how the police are going to deal with this, the clues and this business about the polygraph in particular.  Former D.C. detective and polygraph examiner Howard Miller joins us now.  Thanks a lot for coming on the program.  We appreciate it. 

You hear Mr. Groene say that the polygraph examiner says to him in essence that we don‘t believe you, et cetera.  Is that normal procedure for a polygraph examiner to say something like that? 

HOWARD MILLER, FMR. D.C. DETECTIVE & POLYGRAPH EXAMINER:  Well what we have is three questions that the polygraph examiner has to resolve.  One is did you do the crime?  Do you know who did the crime?  And the third part is do you know where the children are?  Now obviously, some parts of the test he probably did OK on but there‘s obviously knowledge about where the kids are or maybe some circumstances about who may have been involved in this crime that he‘s not dealing with very well. 

ABRAMS:  But what do you make of this allegation by Mr. Groene that the polygraph examiners are literally saying to him, we don‘t buy it, we don‘t buy it.  Is that what polygraph examiners do? 

MILLER:  After the test is run we look at the—what we call the bad reactions in the test and we try to resolve those issues.  He may have been involved in a transaction with someone months before that have been angry with him.  He may have connected this to the situation against his wife, his former wife and his older son and his two kids.  He may have a lot of guilt and responsible feelings about what has happened.  That could also be a reaction that we‘re getting. 

ABRAMS:  Let me lay out the clues for you, Mr. Miller and I want you to sort of tell us what you make of what we know.  Because we now know more than we did even on Friday.

All right.  Three victims found brutally beaten in the home.  Victims found bound and gagged.  Victims died from blunt force trauma to the head.  Illicit drugs found in the systems of both adult victims.  Evidence found in every room of the house.  The father admits arguing with the mother two days before the murders.  Authorities believe the kids were in the house at the time of the murders. 

The victims were last seen alive at a barbecue on May 15.  And even though the guests didn‘t come forward immediately from the barbecue, police now say that they‘ve spoken to them.  What do you make of it? 

MILLER:  Well it‘s obvious that one thing in the autopsy that was left out is the lacerations to the daughter—I‘m sorry, to the son and the mother, which was different.  They also had blunt force trauma but the lacerations to the skull area, and I don‘t know except they were treated differently, say, than the stepfather...

ABRAMS:  You mean than the boyfriend? 

MILLER:  That‘s right...


MILLER:  ... and the—what I think may be going on here is that it could be a tie to a personal issue between the mother and son against the potential suspect. 

ABRAMS:  But it is odd, is it not, that the two children aren‘t there?  I mean if you‘re just going to go in and kill everyone in the house, you‘re going to kill everyone in the house or maybe you‘ll dump the bodies in the area.  They‘ve searched that whole area around there and those two children are still missing. 

MILLER:  Yes.  One scenario you could give it is did the kids see what was going on and take off running?  But there have been sightings where an adult has been seen with these children in the Idaho region of that area. 

ABRAMS:  And let me ask you about that, Mr. Turner.  Any leads that they are following up on that they view as credible in terms of sightings of the children? 

TURNER:  Well there was one sighting over on—late last week but it was determined to be unfounded.  The boy had long, shoulder-length hair.  And of course, Dylan, who also goes by the name of D.J., has short, cropped, blond hair.  And as far as anybody can tell I think they had 900 tips, the Sheriff‘s Office said if they ever come up with any kind of solid leads or know where the children are, they would—said that would come and talk to us...


TURNER:  ... and that has not happened yet. 

ABRAMS:  Mr. Turner, bottom line, does it seem to you that they are running up against dead ends or does it seem that they are making some real progress and we might get some resolution in the next few days?

TURNER:  Well there are at least 40 investigators on the scene, most of them highly professional.  Many from Idaho state police and local and the FBI.  We have basically the pictures of these children on every—almost every channel in the nation, every 15 minutes.  I think that eventually they will be found and—but it‘s probably just going to take time. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Howard Miller and Dave Turner, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.  We‘re going to put up the tip line number again, if you have any information on Dylan and Shasta Groene, police asking you to call 208-446-2292 or 208-446-2293.  Those pictures taken early in the school year so relatively recent pictures, apparently, again, the hair is still similar to what you see it there.  They‘ve also set up an e-mail address for tips.  The address (ph).

Coming up—you‘ve heard conflicting reports about whether Michael Jackson will testify.  Up next, one of our guests says he‘s spoken to people close to the defense and he knows the answer. 

And police searching nationwide for this lawyer—wanted for allegedly raping a 4-month-old infant and then photographing it.  They now think he‘s in the New York area and may be searching for more victims. 

Plus, the FBI arrest an American for allegedly trying to sell a bomb to al Qaeda. 

Your e-mails  Please include your name and where you‘re writing from.  I respond at the end of the show.



ABRAMS:  We are in the homestretch in the Michael Jackson case.  The question—will Jackson take the stand?  Before we get to anything that happened today, one of our guests says he has spoken to people who know.  NBC News analyst, criminal defense attorney Ronald Richards joins us now. 

So Ron, you‘re feeling pretty confident that you know the answer, right? 


ABRAMS:  What is it?

RICHARDS:  I feel confident Michael Jackson will not testify in this case. 

ABRAMS:  Why not? 

RICHARDS:  Because in opening statement he was simply—his defense counsel simply promised that you would hear Michael Jackson deny some of the things that he—you know he spelled out for the jury in that statement and he did.  You heard him in the outtake video, the Bashir documentary, the rebuttal video and through Mark Geragos.  And after all of that, you don‘t need to hear Michael Jackson testify because you heard him deny these things, both in a video segment and through his attorney. 

ABRAMS:  Now Ron, are your sources saying anything to you about fear of having Michael Jackson on the stand?  I mean I know that the party line will be, oh, no, no, no, we don‘t have any fear.  But the bottom line is if I was his attorney, I would be scared sick about the idea of Michael Jackson taking the witness stand. 

RICHARDS:  Well, the fear is that you won‘t be able to reconcile the grotesque feelings that will be you know brought out by these jurors if Michael Jackson has to rationalize why he slept in beds with boys for a year at a time, where most men don‘t sleep in the same bed with their wives or girlfriends for a year straight.  I mean everybody takes a break.  And the fact that Michael Jackson went a year straight with some of these boys is just stuff he‘s not going to be able to explain.  It‘s better left unsaid. 

ABRAMS:  And defense team confident about the way things have been going so far? 

RICHARDS:  They are very confident.  If they would have been able to, you know, write a script and say at this stage in the case how many good days did we have versus how many bad days...


RICHARDS:  ... the defense really couldn‘t have asked for a better trial for them. 

ABRAMS:  Ron, did you ever get the sense I mean that they might be trying to spin you?  I guess the spin would be he is going to testify, right?  I mean that‘s what people generally say in these cases, oh, my client wants to testify.  My client wants to take the stand.  If they are fessing up to you that he‘s not going to testify, that‘s to me almost an admission. 

RICHARDS:  Well if I‘m being played or spinned then that‘s the way it is, but I will tell you that logic dictates my own experiences as a criminal defense attorney dictates...

ABRAMS:  Right.

RICHARDS:  ... and what I watched in this case, it would be almost legal malpractice to put Michael Jackson on the stand now and it would be what we call a walking Strickland (ph) violation for ineffective assistance of counsel.  I don‘t think Tom Mesereau is going to do that. 

ABRAMS:  But you‘re confident, right, in your information?  You‘re not going to be coming back on this eating crow, right? 

RICHARDS:  Hey, defense attorney makes tough choices but I‘m not afraid to take a stand.  Michael Jackson will not testify and if I have to come back, if I was played, if my information is wrong, then that‘s the way it goes.  But I‘m willing to stand by that and I think you believe that too. 

ABRAMS:  Well I believe it.  Look, I believe that he shouldn‘t take the stand but I‘m not claiming that my sources are telling me that.  Mike Taibbi, before we get into the discussion, you want to ask Ron Richards a question?

MIKE TAIBBI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well yes, I wanted to actually correct something Ron said. 


TAIBBI:  Because he said that Michael—that Tom Mesereau in his opening statement said Jackson will tell you that he didn‘t do it.  That‘s not what he said.  And I‘m sure the prosecutors are going to go back and look at that opening statement, as we did last week, and know and remember and remind the jury that what Tom Mesereau said is Michael Jackson will tell you specifically that he caught the accuser and his brother going through pornography and took it away from them, didn‘t want them to do it.  That‘s the specific thing that Mesereau promised when he said Michael Jackson will tell you. 

So I think that‘s an issue that the prosecution is certainly going to harp on when they finally have their closing argument and is an issue that Tom Mesereau is going to have to address.  That‘s just a point about what Tom Mesereau said. 

RICHARDS:  A critical thing, Mike, with all due respect, and I respect you the most, is that it will be reversible error if anybody comments on Michael Jackson‘s silence or what his defense attorney said in opening statement. 


RICHARDS:  If Michael Jackson does not testify, he will get an instruction that says no one is allowed to discuss it in their deliberations and no one will be able to comment on his silence.  So unfortunately, the defense will be able to take advantage of this and not have any comments made.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let‘s bring in...

TAIBBI:  I understand that...

ABRAMS:  Let‘s bring in the panel here—Susan Filan and Daniel Horowitz.  Susan is an MSNBC legal analyst, former prosecutor and Daniel is the great criminal defense attorney.  All right, so bottom line, Daniel Horowitz, any surprise from Ron‘s information? 

DANIEL HOROWITZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well, not really.  It‘s typical for defense attorneys to say I am not going to put my client on because—and then we are fearful.  We don‘t quite know what‘s going to happen.  But you know Dan, when I‘ve put my clients on it‘s worked out well. 

ABRAMS:  Yes Daniel...

HOROWITZ:  I had a murder case that hung three times like that...

ABRAMS:  Daniel, have you ever have a client like Michael Jackson?

HOROWITZ:  No and you know in the—well, yes, Dan...

ABRAMS:  Yes...

HOROWITZ:  ... when you have...

ABRAMS:  Yes, you do...

HOROWITZ:  ... white-collar criminal...

ABRAMS:  ... name him.  Name him. 


ABRAMS:  You had a client like Michael Jackson? 

HOROWITZ:  Well OK, Michael Jackson is Michael Jackson, but I‘m talking about an intelligent, articulate...

ABRAMS:  That‘s not what I‘m talking about...

HOROWITZ:  ... cultured man. 

ABRAMS:  I‘m talking about a guy...

HOROWITZ:  Well...

ABRAMS:  ... who‘s been sleeping in bed with kids for years and who‘s going like this...


ABRAMS:  ... when he‘s testifying in a civil case. 

HOROWITZ:  Dan, he had his chimpanzees sleep in the bed.  It doesn‘t mean he‘s guilty.  Put him on...

ABRAMS:  So your...

HOROWITZ:  ... the way he is and let the jury see him.

ABRAMS:  ... your white-collar client had chimpanzees doing the housework? 

HOROWITZ:  No, nobody said...

ABRAMS:  All right.

HOROWITZ:  ... they didn‘t...

ABRAMS:  That‘s what I meant...

HOROWITZ:  They don‘t make wine either. 

ABRAMS:  That‘s what I meant by the question is that this is—Susan, it‘s just too much of a risk to put Michael Jackson on the witness—particularly because I think we all agree that the defense case has been going—I think people would say anywhere from OK to really well. 

SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  He‘s been on the witness stand three times.  They heard his point of view in the outtakes of the Bashir documentary.  They heard his former lawyer Geragos ask him, Michael, did anything happen?  No, it didn‘t.  They heard his denial there and they heard Macaulay Culkin testify for Michael Jackson.  So he scored big time by getting his story in without being subject to cross-exam.  Now he may want to testify and he may think he can moonwalk so he can do it with this jury as well. 


FILAN:  But I think Mesereau has got him just where he needs him to be.  The guy is showing up to the court everyday on time, sitting still...


FILAN:  He‘s behaved.  Let‘s quit while we are ahead. 

ABRAMS:  Hey Mike, did we bet on this—Taibbi...

TAIBBI:  Well I did bet.  I bet a while ago that I thought he would testify for this reason.  I think there‘s a two-tiered responsibility that this defense team feels to this defendant.  The first, the primary one of course is to advocate for their client and to get him acquitted of these charges.  If that‘s the case, though, if the Mesereau team is confident, it will get acquittal and not a hung jury and on all of the charges, molestation, conspiracy and the booze and the pursuit of molestation, then the second tier kind of kicks in. 

And that is, is there going to be a second act in this American life, Michael Jackson‘s life?  Because the theory has been all along that Jackson‘s career has been in decline for all of the dozen-plus years that these allegations that he‘s a pedophile have been hanging over his head. 


TAIBBI:  And the only way to get back to it, the way to get back to the studio to the thing he does if he looks that jury and the American people in the eye and says OK...


TAIBBI:  ... I‘m weird.  I‘m really weird...


TAIBBI:  ... I‘ve made mistakes but let me tell you I‘m not a molester and they believe him...

ABRAMS:  But he‘ll do that afterwards. 


ABRAMS:  He‘ll do that on this program...

TAIBBI:  Well he may do that...

ABRAMS:  ... when he comes and does his exclusive interview on the program about justice, Michael Jackson...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s right...

ABRAMS:  ... will be able to tell the world...

TAIBBI:  I‘m perfectly happy to do that interview with him for your show, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Go ahead Ron Richards...

RICHARDS:  Hey Dan, I just want you to know that exact question was discussed and I will tell you that they don‘t care anything about the publicity.  What they want is an acquittal and not having him go to jail and that‘s the only thing they‘re focusing on.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right...

FILAN:  It‘s to soon to talk about an acquittal though Dan.  I mean this is a case that could be or lost in closing arguments...

ABRAMS:  Could be.  Could be. 

FILAN:  ... and we tend to focus on what‘s happened that day, but take a big picture view, you still have the question—did the victim tell the truth that it happened...

ABRAMS:  No, I agree...

FILAN:  ... and then you compare that with the prior bad acts...

ABRAMS:  This is—I still think that this is—I still believe that there‘s a much more—much greater likelihood he will be acquitted than he will be convicted.  But I think a hung jury is a possibility.  I think some sort of split verdict with a conviction on the alcohol...

FILAN:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... and not on the other charges is a possibility.  This case is up for grabs still and I don‘t think anyone...

FILAN:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... I think anyone who says it‘s not is not looking at this case fairly.  All right...

FILAN:  Exactly.

ABRAMS:  Let‘s talk about what happened today.  Jackson‘s attorneys hit hard today, knocking the credibility of the accuser‘s mother.  A witness says the mother committed welfare fraud, an issue the mother herself avoided on the stand by taking the Fifth.  The Department of Social Services‘ worker was asked about welfare applications filled out by the mother.  In an application obtained exclusively by Taibbi‘s team, NBC News, one of the questions on the application, has anyone received money from insurance or a court settlement, an inheritance, lottery or back pay in the past three years?  Mother said no.

Come to learn, of course, that she filled out the application after getting about $150,000 settlement.  You know some of it went to the lawyers, et cetera, but in the J.C. Penney case.  All right, Mike Taibbi was in the courtroom.  Mike, was this really as good a day for the defense as it sounds? 

TAIBBI:  Yes, I think on the question of the alleged welfare fraud and perjury, alleged welfare fraud and perjury, it‘s very strong for the defense.  We did this story, as you know, back when the mother took the Fifth prior to her testimony, two possible allegations of fraud and perjury. 

ABRAMS:  Right.

TAIBBI:  Well today it was laid out by this welfare worker in very straight, narrative basically saying she said no to seven key questions of the 78 that are asked in that statement of facts, the application as you pointed out, that there were no court settlements, she had no bank accounts...

ABRAMS:  Right.

TAIBBI:  ... she hadn‘t moved or lived with anybody else.  Nobody else was donating gifts, et cetera, et cetera.  And she reaffirmed that every month and then filled out a second statement of facts, a second application more than a year later, so this is all on the record and there was very little that the prosecution could do to attack that testimony.

ABRAMS:  But Susan, I think there‘s a legitimate argument to say, so what?  Mom was a scammer...

FILAN:  Exactly. 

ABRAMS:  Mom was a scammer.  Mom was a con artist to a certain degree, someone could argue.  And that doesn‘t tell us anything about whether the boy is telling the truth or lying about the molestation allegations. 

FILAN:  You are 100 percent right.  She could have absolutely committed welfare fraud and perjury and she could absolutely have a son who is the victim of molestation by Michael Jackson, the accused in this case.  Very often in criminal prosecutions we have witnesses who have felony records for escape or perjury or burglary, whatever...


FILAN:  ... they are impeached on their prior crimes, but it doesn‘t mean that they didn‘t witness what they say they saw or that they aren‘t telling the truth in this particular case.  Clearly, she‘s got credibility problems, but does that kill the case entirely?  Is it game over because she got some money to which she isn‘t entitled?  She‘s certainly not the first person...

ABRAMS:  But Ron...

FILAN:  ... and won‘t be the last. 

ABRAMS:  Ron Richards, later in the week we‘re going to begin hearing testimony, including from Jay Leno, which is intended not to discredit the mother but to discredit the boy himself, right?

RICHARDS:  That‘s correct.  They are going to—Leno is going to show that he felt very uncomfortable with this boy.  And also, they‘re going to bring in a witness from the mother‘s former civil prosecution team, where he says or she says that the mother told her that she programmed her kids to lie.  And I think that the combination of Leno coming in like this and the paralegal coming in like this it‘s going to be a very big finale for the defense and that may be enough to have reasonable doubt in this case. 

ABRAMS:  That‘s what they need, though, Daniel.  I mean you know all of this testimony about the mother, I‘m not saying it‘s irrelevant, but you know it‘s not to me the make-or-break issue.  You know I‘ve got to tell you, I think that they‘ve made a convincing case the mother can‘t be trusted.  OK.  Fine.  Now they‘ve got to provide that link, mother to son, mother to the accuser‘s brother, mother to the accuser‘s sister.  I mean this is a whole family who testified and they‘re offering incriminating testimony about Michael Jackson. 

HOROWITZ:  I agree, Dan.  The mother today was hit hard.  The most damaging part, I think, was when her sister-in-law said we did a blood drive for the son and the mother called me and said, I don‘t give a “bleep” about the blood.  I want money.  It really shows her using the kid as an object.  But you‘re right, she‘s—we have not seen the kid himself attacked.  And you hate to attack a kid, but he was on the stand...

ABRAMS:  You‘ve got to...

HOROWITZ:  ... pointing the finger.  He‘s got to be taken out.  Dan, when that J.C. Penney security guard and the next door, the record store security guard were not allowed on the stand, that really hurt the defense because they would have pointed the finger at the kid as both a thief, a shoplifter or an accessory...


HOROWITZ:  ... and as somebody who supported a false story by the mother. 

ABRAMS:  You know Ron, I heard another commentator on another network saying oh you‘ve got to be very, very careful attacking this boy.  You know he was a cancer victim.  That‘s all true.  You‘ve got to be careful.  Yes, he suffered from cancer, but if you don‘t undermine his credibility, he‘s the one saying that guy, yes, the one sitting right over there, yes, he molested me.

RICHARDS:  Well they used some of the security guards and employees from Neverland to attack the accuser‘s credibility.  And I think their theory of defense is that the mother poisons the well of all of these kids, and I think that‘s what they got going for them...


ABRAMS:  You‘ve got to just do more than just say general poisoning.  Because you know these kids are offering very specific allegations and I think look, they have presented evidence to undermine the credibility of the kid‘s stories about whether the accuser‘s brother could have seen his brother being molested, et cetera.  Anyway, I got to wrap.  Susan Filan, Daniel Horowitz, Ron Richards, Mike Taibbi, thanks a lot.

RICHARDS:  Thanks Dan.

ABRAMS:  Coming up...

FILAN:  ... out here soon Dan.

ABRAMS:  ... an American arrested for trying to build a bomb, an American, trying to sell it to al Qaeda.  Wow.  Just wait until you hear what his apparent motive was.  We will talk to the U.S. attorney who will be prosecuting the case.

And a lawyer and father of two young children on the run wanted for raping a 4-month-old infant and he took pictures.  Authorities now think he may be in the New York area trying to find more victims, possibly trolling sex clubs.  We‘ll talk with a U.S. marshal who‘s searching for him.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, an American arrested for trying to sell a powerful bomb to al Qaeda, but first the headlines.


ABRAMS:  It would have been a powerful bomb if it had ever been built.  A canister packed with a homemade explosive more dangerous than the military‘s C-4.  The would-be bomb maker said it could take down buildings quote—“anywhere in the world.”  The targets would have been Americans.  And the man who allegedly plotted to build it, not a jihadist fanatic but a 68-year-old Pennsylvania man named Ronald Allen Grecula. 

According to court papers, Grecula wasn‘t trying to blast himself to heaven but to somehow use his alleged terror contacts—really FBI agents, as it turns out under cover—to help win custody of his kids.  After an investigation that began last month, Grecula was arrested Friday, charged today with attempting to build a bomb and sell it to al Qaeda, at least an affiliate.  He could serve up to 15 years if convicted. 

Michael Shelby is the U.S. Attorney for the southern district of Texas and he joins us exclusively tonight from Houston.  Thank you for very much sir for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

MICHAEL SHELBY, U.S. ATTORNEY:  Thank you.  Appreciate it.

ABRAMS:  So the revenge—the motive here was what revenge against the government or he somehow thought that this was going to aid him in his custody battle? 

SHELBY:  Well the affidavit in support of today‘s complaint talks about the fact that he had been involved in some criminal litigation in Pennsylvania at one point in time and had actually been incarcerated in Malta as a result of some kidnapping charges that have been filed against him.  And they related to his children and some custody disputes he was having with—involving those children.  And since that point he has had a hatred against the United States—the government of the United States and was looking for a way to profit from exacting some kind of revenge against the country. 

ABRAMS:  Let me read from the complaint.  He was tortured in prison.  He was beat up, took his family, killed his friends.  So you could say in a way this is, I guess, what he said—that he was beat up.  They took his family, killed his friends.  So you could say in a way I‘m like a Spartacus.  So that‘s it.  I have no loyalty to America.

What, that was his account of what he told the authorities?

SHELBY:  Well, actually what he was saying on two different occasions, according to the affidavit, he made a point to analogize himself to the character Spartacus.  And he talked about how Spartacus had been abused and had had everything taken from him and that he fought basically a holy war against Rome.  And he likened himself to that and said I‘m like him and I was imprisoned and I don‘t believe in this country and corruption of the country and so I‘m willing to fight a war against it. 

ABRAMS:  I know you‘ve said that sort of whether he would have been able to actually build this bomb isn‘t the issue and as a legal matter, I think there‘s no question about that.  The question is what was he intending to do?  What was his goal?  But as a practical matter, was this guy just some whack-ado or could he have actually made this happen? 

SHELBY:  Well he clearly had an understanding of the basics, in the physics involving explosive devices, particularly chemical explosives.  And he talked about high-energy devices and the way that one could mix gases that were commonly available in such a way as to produce a tremendous amount of blast pressure or overpressure.  And he described that the bomb that he could make would be 25 times more powerful than a C-4 that‘s used by the military. 

Now whether or not he could actually do those things, I don‘t know.  Whether or not the physics of that are actually doable, I—it‘s doubtful to me that he could actually carry out many of the things that he talked about.  But the fact that he was willing to do that and to engage in that kind of research, and to engage in the basic chemistry of bomb manufacturing, coupled with the fact that he was willing to travel to Houston, Texas and meet with individuals he knew to be from al Qaeda—or at least he believed to be from al Qaeda, that‘s enough. 

And I don‘t want to successfully prosecute a successful terrorist.  And I don‘t want to give Mr. Grecula or anybody else the ability to demonstrate to us that he actually can carry through with those kinds of activities and actions.  Our job is to basically prevent the next act of terror.  And we have to sort of draw the line and say, well, that‘s enough information to proceed with the prosecution...


SHELBY:  ... but not so much as to endanger people...

ABRAMS:  And also to basically say, look, we don‘t really care what their motives are, whether it was to get their kids back or to go to heaven.  Bottom line is that doesn‘t matter?

SHELBY:  Exactly. 


SHELBY:  It makes no difference whatsoever what the motivations...

ABRAMS:  Right.

SHELBY:  ... of a mass murderer are.  The fact is that there are going to be a lot of bodies left in their wake.  And we are, particularly in a post 9/11 world, we‘re just not willing to run that risk any further. 

ABRAMS:  Before I go through the timeline of how you all made this happen, are you concerned—you know, there have been a number of sort of high-profile arrests of people who have been accused of terrorism, et cetera.  And a number of them have fallen by the wayside.  A number of them have been overstated or at least it turns out later that they were overstated.  Any concern about that here? 

SHELBY:  Well no.  Some of the cases that you‘re referring to, the material support that is allegedly being provided to al Qaeda or the foreign terrorists organization is very marginal at best.  It‘s providing computer support, providing Internet support, creating Web sites, things like that.  And I understand why those are close calls. 

Now personally, I do believe that those things help al Qaeda and any other terrorist organization with its communication capabilities.  But in Mr. Grecula‘s case, according to the affidavit filed in today‘s complaint, he was trying to build a high-explosive device to be used by al Qaeda against United States targets.  And I can‘t think of a clearer example of material support to a terrorist organization than that.

ABRAMS:  Here‘s how it happened.  FBI records indicate Grecula telling confidential source he‘s willing to build and sell an explosive device.  Confidential source introduces Grecula to an FBI undercover agent.  The FBI agent and Grecula discuss his ability to build an explosive device, his willingness to put on a demonstration, need to be careful.  He attends an hour long videotaped meeting with undercover agents, indicates willingness to build and sell an explosive device to an al Qaeda affiliate to use against Americans.

Real quick, bottom line is, he never got in contact with any real al Qaeda operatives, correct? 

SHELBY:  That‘s right.  The gentlemen that originally started this case was...

ABRAMS:  Well that‘s good. 

SHELBY:  ... a cooperating source in Malta. 

ABRAMS:  That‘s good news.  Michael Shelby, congratulations and thank you very much for coming on the program. 

SHELBY:  Thank you very much.

ABRAMS:  Appreciate it.  Coming up—a nationwide hunt under way for this lawyer, an accused child rapist, his crime allegedly committed on a 4-month-old infant.  Authorities say he‘s dangerous.  They‘re warning people he may not be what you think of as your quote—“typical pedophile.”  We‘ll talk with U.S. Marshals about the search after...


ABRAMS:  Coming up, a manhunt underway for a lawyer wanted for allegedly raping a 4-month-old baby.  Authorities are racing to find him.  They say he could be looking for more victims.



ABRAMS:  Nationwide manhunt under way for an accused rapist on the run.  He‘s a lawyer and now he‘s one of the U.S. Marshals 15 most wanted.  John Dallas Lockhart, last seen in Akron, Ohio, disappeared in August, believed to be in the New York area.  The Ohio attorney married with two children is believed to have raped a 4-month-old baby.  Then photographed himself committing the crime, they say. 

The charges Lockhart facing—three counts each of gross sexual imposition, child rape, pandering, sexually oriented material involving a minor and one count of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.  Authorities believe he fled to New York when he found out police seized his computer while investigating fraud in his law practice. 

It was then that they discovered about 100 pornographic pictures stored on his hard drive, among the photos, those of his alleged infant victim.  If convicted, Lockhart faces a maximum punishment of multiple life sentences. 

Joining me now, U.S. Marshal for the northern district of Ohio, Peter Elliot.  Thank you very much for coming on the program.  We appreciate it. 

PETER ELLIOTT, U.S. MARSHAL:  Thanks for having me. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  So this guy is being investigated for fraud and then these pictures are just found? 

ELLIOTT:  These pictures are found, actually a computer company came to do some maintenance on his computer and found these images.  There was over 100 images of this individual engaged in sexual acts with other individuals, including a 4-month-old infant. 

ABRAMS:  Have you identified the victims? 

ELLIOTT:  We have identified some of the victims.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Is that helping you in the investigation?  Obviously, I don‘t want you to identify them.  I‘m just—is it helping in the investigation? 

ELLIOTT:  It is.  It‘s very much helping in the investigation right now.

ABRAMS:  Let me put up some of the traits that you all have identified about him.  White male, 36.  This is—actually let‘s leave this up.  This is—you say he‘s bisexual, likes having multiple sex partners, bondage and S&M, frequents gay bars, uses marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy, very outgoing. 

So what the concern is or the belief may be that he‘s trolling some of the places that might have some of this in New York?

ELLIOTT:  That is correct.  He was last spotted—we tracked him to West 70th Street around the 200 block of New York back in August and he disappeared.  Back then he said he was going to be looking for warmer climates.  The thing that‘s scary about this individual is he can fit in anywhere and he does fit in anywhere.  He looks like the guy next door. 

ABRAMS:  And he‘s also, you say, sort of a smooth talker.  I mean you know I guess he‘s a lawyer, so—but he‘s apparently sort of one of these guys who can talk his way into things? 

ELLIOTT:  He is.  He‘s very, very well spoken.  Again, he can fit in anywhere.  He‘s very clean cut.  He basically can walk into any area in society, and that‘s what scares us.  You may find him hanging around a pool.  You may find him around a bar.  You may find him at a restaurant.  He could be anywhere. 

ABRAMS:  And obviously, you‘re concerned that he‘s going to continue these sexual assaults? 

ELLIOTT:  Very much so.  I don‘t think he‘s going to stop.  I think he‘s the type of individual that‘s done this his whole life and he‘s going to continue.  We want to take this individual off the streets as quickly as possible and we need your help. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Well let‘s do it again.  Let‘s take the time, put up the picture, put up the tip line—there it is—tip line, 866-4-WANTED.  If you‘ve got any information about his whereabouts, please call the U.S. Marshals hotline -- 866-4-WANTED.  Wow, this is just so horrible.  We almost—I couldn‘t do the segment because it was so disgusting to think of, but it‘s important to get it out there.  He‘s on the U.S.  Marshals top 15 to find. 

So, sir, thank you very much for coming on the program. 

ELLIOTT:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Appreciate it. 

ELLIOTT:  Thank you very much. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up—the White House says the media has a problem relying on anonymous sources.  They may be right, but maybe they should be careful about throwing stones.  Don‘t they cite anonymous sources as well?  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.


ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—the administration‘s recent criticism of the use of anonymous sources by the media.  In the wake of “Newsweek” magazine retracting its report on the Koran being flushed down a toilet at Guantanamo Bay, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said -- quote—“there is a credibility problem in the media regarding the use of anonymous sources.”  Well he‘s right.  There is a credibility problem and many in the media need to continue taking greater care with anonymous sources. 

Any mistakes are being highlighted like never before and that may be a good thing.  But as McClellan seems to relish his role as the nation‘s editor-in-chief, I have to ask, what about the anonymous sources regularly cited by the government?  After all, wasn‘t the war in Iraq justified to the public with the use of unidentified sources, offering proof of Saddam‘s weapons of mass destruction?  And government officials regularly speak to the media but only on the condition that they not be identified. 

The Justice Department, the IRS, both regularly cite anonymous sources to launch investigations, sometime even to make arrests.  Most of the time, the sources they trust are right.  Sometimes they‘re wrong.  Same applies to those of us in the media.  Sure, different types of sources are anonymous for different reasons and in some cases, they‘re eventually named, other times they‘re not. 

Look, I understand why many of you have criticized the media‘s use of anonymous sources.  After all, my regular viewers know I thought “Newsweek” should have retracted the story the moment they questioned their source and that the delay hurt the credibility of everyone in the media.  But it‘s a little too convenient for the White House press secretary to say essentially that we should not be doing what in reality they do as well. 

Coming up—how to prevent a wedding from happening and getting sued in the process, and it involves a lawn mower.  Our “OH PLEAs!” is coming up. 


ABRAMS:  I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  On Friday former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein on the front page of the “London Sun” and “New York Post” in his skivvies.  At an exclusive interview, I spoke to former United States Attorney General Ramsey Clark who‘s also a member of Saddam Hussein‘s defense team.  I agreed with him that Saddam should have access to a lawyer but disagreed with him about virtually everything else. 

Many of you not happy with him including Maureen Kidwell in Fairfield, Pennsylvania.  “So Saddam wears whitey tighties.  Does that mean we have to be subjected to Ramsey Clark‘s radical rantings?”

From Bradenton, Florida, Joan Califano, “A former attorney general representing Saddam is a slap in the face to our nation and every American in it.”

Roger Penland, “Mr. Clark can change his address to Baghdad and give Hussein his full attention every accused needs from his attorney.”

But Mary McClintock says, “Condoning the early and most recent photos of Saddam is akin to applauding the treatment and photos of the Abu Ghraib prisoners.  Your attitude was shocking.”

Mary, no idea what it has to do with Abu Ghraib and no one was condoning these pictures, not me, not the administration, not even “The Sun”.  They were just saying that they were newsworthy.  But I think in the end, they‘re just not that big a deal.  It‘s not like Saddam was being mistreated here.  And I said that that about the early photos that Ramsey Clark objected to as well.  That I just thought they were completely—I mean those were different.  I thought those were OK.  This just shouldn‘t have happened. 

Your e-mails  We go through them at the end of the show.

“OH PLEAs!”—it wasn‘t exactly someone yelling I object at a wedding, but according to a bed and breakfast owner in Nashville, Tennessee, his neighbor was the Grinch who stole the wedding.  Richard Demonbreun, owner of a bed and breakfast outside of Nashville hosted a wedding on the front lawn of his property.  According to Demonbreun, his scrooge of a neighbor, William Cochran, was determined to disrupt the nuptials.

Cochran‘s weapon of destruction—his lawn mower.  That‘s right.  Cochran revved up the mower just as the bride and groom were exchanging their vows.  Demonbreun has since sued Cochran for intentionally disrupting the wedding and it appears Cochran will mow again during future nuptials.  Cochran denies he chose to manicure his lawn to disrupt the wedding, but agrees with other neighbors that the events held at the house there—quote—“diminish the neighbors‘ quality of life.”  A wedding diminishing the quality of life—bah! Humbug!

That does it for us tonight.  Thanks for watching.  See you tomorrow.



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