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'The Abrams Report' for October 13

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guest: Andrew McCarthy, Kendall Coffey, Allan Jennings, Scott Neal, Patricia Farrell, Bob Sansevere, Stephen Doyle, Pat McGowan, Geoff Shank

NORAH O'DONNELL, GUEST HOST:  We're going to talk about this further, but first we're going to take a look at the special prosecutor spearheading this investigation.  It's very interesting.  He has got some of the nation's most powerful politico shuffling back and forth between the White House and this federal grand jury.  Just who is this guy?


O'DONNELL (voice-over):  Patrick Fitzgerald has been called the toughest prosecutor in America, a bulldog, as relentless, as he is brilliant. 

RON SAFER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  If somebody recommended him to the administration as somebody who would run out some ground balls and go through the motions and get this done, that they were now out of a job. 

O'DONNELL:  Fitzgerald is 6 foot, 200-pound rugby enthusiast, likes to play rough.  And his career shows he likes to tackle big-name targets.  First making his name by jailing mobster John Gambino in 1994. 

JAMES COMEY, FMR. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL:  I once told a Chicago newspaper that Pat Fitzgerald was Eliot Ness with a Harvard law degree and a sense of humor. 

O'DONNELL:  He indicted Osama bin Laden back in 1998 in a conspiracy that included the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.  After the president named him U.S. attorney in Chicago in 2001, he charged former Illinois Republican Governor George Ryan with public corruption. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Citizens of this state deserve honest government. 

O'DONNELL:  Recently he's targeted Chicago's Democratic mayor, Richard Daley's office for giving friends political jobs. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He is fearless.  He is apolitical.  He is somebody who is interested solely in doing what he believes is right. 

O'DONNELL:  Born poor in Brooklyn, to Irish immigrants, Fitzgerald's father was a doorman in Manhattan.  Young Patrick went to the prestigious Regis High, a Jesuit prep school, then Amherst College and Harvard Law School.  But he now faces his biggest challenge, probing the leak of covert CIA operative, Valerie Plame. 

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  If you think of Fitzgerald and compare him to earlier prosecutors going all the way back to the time of Nixon, here is someone who potentially could have the fate of the Gush administration in his hands. 

O'DONNELL:  Fitzgerald has been dogged over the past two years, interviewing the president in the oval office. 

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  And the special prosecutor has made it clear that he doesn't want anybody speculating or talking about the case. 

O'DONNELL:  He's questioned the vice president, his chief of staff, “Scooter” Libby and this week Karl Rove for the fourth time.  Friends say Fitzgerald is apolitical and a straight shooter.  But critics charge he's gone too far by threatening journalists to give up their confidential sources...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It is a very sad day.

O'DONNELL:  ... and jailing “New York Times” reporter Judith Miller. 

VICTORIA TOENSING, FMR. DEPUTY ASST. ATTORNEY GENERAL:  Fitzgerald has a reputation for being very brain smart and for being honest, but not necessarily for being judgment smart.


O'DONNELL:  Well joining us now former Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy and former U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey.  Thank you very much both of you for joining us.

Andrew, let me ask you first.  You know Fitzgerald.  You just saw the piece we did, his biography.  Is this guy a pit bull?

ANDREW MCCARTHY, FMR. ASST. U.S. ATTORNEY:  He's a pit bull and he's also the best and most honorable guy I know.  I think that the country is in good hands having this particular investigation, in particular in his hands.

O'DONNELL:  Kendall, Karl Rove has been called for the fourth time.  Does that mean, does that suggest that we could see an indictment of him soon?

KENDALL COFFEY, FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY:  Well I think it's still too close to call.  He certainly wouldn't be walking in there if his lawyer had any indication that an indictment was imminent or even likely.  But it does say that he and his lawyer think there are some problems that they've got to explain.  Peers like the problems that arise from discrepancies between what Rove has said before and what other witnesses are saying. 

And as we all recall from the case of Martha Stewart, it isn't necessarily just what you did.  Sometimes it's whether or not you fibbed. 

O'DONNELL:  Exactly and very interesting.  The attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, has known Karl Rove for more than a decade.  They worked together in Texas.  Here's what he said to us about why the grand jury may want to hear from Karl for a fourth time. 


ALBERTO GONZALES, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL:  This prosecutor may have new information that may contradict prior testimony and—or may have questions regarding prior testimony, may simply seek a clarification.  I'm not going to try to speculate as to what the motivation is behind Mr. Fitzgerald in asking for a return by any witness, but there are a variety of reasons that someone might be called back to answer additional question before a grand jury. 


O'DONNELL:  Andrew, you know everybody looks at the fact that Karl Rove is going back for a fourth time and immediately people think wow, that's something bad.  Could there be any innocent explanation for him having to return so many times?

MCCARTHY:  Sure.  There could be a lot of different explanations.  Pat's called a lot of witnesses.  It's interesting in this case, we're sort of in the position of filling a void, an information void we don't also have in these high-profile investigations because he's been very responsible about keeping investigative information under wraps, which is what you're supposed to do.  It could be over something that we have no idea about.

O'DONNELL:  But, what we do know, or at least what we think we know is that this is voluntary.  So why would you send your client, voluntarily into the grand jury if he might face indictment, you know, because he's Karl Rove and that he can explain himself?  I mean why would you do that? 

MCCARTHY:  Well I guess I would do it if I thought that the prosecutor I was dealing with was honorable, if he had told me that the guy was not a target of the investigation and if I thought it was in my client's interest to go in there and be cooperative, which I assume is all true.  Luskin is a smart guy.  I have no reason to doubt that he's gotten, you know, the appropriate assurances and he certainly wouldn't send Rove in if he thought it was going to be bad for Rove. 

O'DONNELL:  Kendall, there are reports that Fitzgerald can't really charge anyone under the protection of identities law.  What might he indict from?  We're hearing rumors it might be the espionage act, perjury, conspiracy.  Could those stick?

COFFEY:  I think that what you're hearing is correct.  It is a very tough criminal charge to make to say that somebody knowingly outed a covert agent.  Because they not only have to know that that agent was in fact a covert agent, but also that the United States government was taking affirmative acts and actions...


O'DONNELL:  ... for the prosecutor to all of a sudden switch in the middle of this and say I'm not looking at that act anymore.  Now I can for a perjury or a conspiracy.  Is that fair?

COFFEY:  It happens all the time. 


COFFEY:  Again, Martha Stewart, they start looking at insider trading.  What do they end up—what does she do jail time for, false statement, obstruction of justice kind of things.  And I think there has to be a concern here that early on Karl Rove was absolutely minimizing any conversations.  Matt Cooper e-mail comes out, he testifies, Rove told him it was the wife of Joseph Wilson. 

He's clearly got some explaining to do.  If you change your story in the public arena, it's flip-flop.  If you change your story in front of a grand jury and they don't buy it, you're called a defendant. 

O'DONNELL:  All eyes on the grand jury tomorrow and Karl Rove.  Andrew McCarthy, Kendall Coffey, thanks.

And coming up, it's allegedly happened again.  This woman charged with attacking her pregnant neighbor and cutting her stomach to steal her baby.  We talked to the cop investigating the case next. 

And crewmembers say a cruise full of NFL football players turned into a sex party.  And if it did, did anyone break the law? 

Plus, in the days after Katrina, we heard reports of sex offenders on the loose.  Now the U.S. Marshall Service is tracking them down. 

Your e-mails—send them to  Remember to include your name and where you're writing from.  Dan responds at the end of the show.


O'DONNELL:  It was a gruesome discovery.  A 17-year-old boy was riding his all terrain vehicle in the Pennsylvania woods when he came across a puddle of blood.  A pregnant woman was lying on the ground nearby and another woman was sitting in the car.  The woman on the ground, 30-year-old mother Valerie Oskin, eight months pregnant, the woman in the car, 38-year-old Peggy Jo Conner. 

Conner allegedly tried to cut the unborn baby from Oskin's belly.  Joining me now with the latest Allan Jennings with our Pittsburgh affiliate WPXI. 

Allan, thank you very much.  First, this is a horrible story.  Let me ask you, how is Ms. Oskin and her baby doing? 

ALLAN JENNINGS, WPXI REPORTER: Well I can tell you that the baby was delivered by doctors at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh.  The baby is doing well.  Mom is not doing so well.  We understand that she is in critical condition, Norah. 

O'DONNELL:  Can you walk us through exactly what happened? 

JENNINGS:  Well, state troopers told us during a news conference

a short while ago that these two were friends.  Peggy Conner and Valerie Oskin, they live right next door to each other in—at the end of a street on Franklin Avenue.  This is a town about 25 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

We're live here, by the way, at the state police barracks where the investigation is still going on.  Troopers say that they were friends and that during this 36-hour ordeal, that Peggy Conner is accused of torturing her neighbor, of beating her, and then the beating escalated to a baseball bat beating and that Conner allegedly put her in her car, in Conner's car, dove her to a remote road, a farm road, where she continued to beat her with this baseball bat and then attempted to cut the woman's abdomen and take out the unborn baby. 

O'DONNELL:  This is sick.  I mean why?  Does anybody have an explanation about why she would do this? 

JENNINGS:  Well I know that the troopers and the D.A., Norah, are just, they're puzzled.  They don't have a motive.  They don't understand this and it's just an unthinkable, just an awful crime. 

O'DONNELL:  Allan Jennings, thank you very much. 

And joining me now...

JENNINGS:  You're welcome.

O'DONNELL:  ... Lieutenant Scott Neal with the Pennsylvania State Police Department.

First, let me ask you, does this appear to have been a planned out attack or was it spur of the moment? 

LT. SCOTT NEAL, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE DEPT.:  Right now, our indications that she had been planning on having a baby.  She had been telling anyone who would listen that she had been pregnant.  We have no indications that she has been pregnant.

But it does appear from inside of her house and everything she was telling everybody that she was anticipating on having a baby.  So that would lead us to conclude that this may have been a planned situation. 

O'DONNELL:  So she's telling everybody she's pregnant and you have no information that the alleged person who beat this pregnant woman was pregnant.  Have you talked to her husband? 

NEAL:  She has a paramour now.  She's not married, but she has an individual she lives with.  So yes, we have spoken to him.

O'DONNELL:  And what does he say?

NEAL:  She had been telling him that she was seven and a half, to eight months pregnant and he believed her. 

O'DONNELL:  So you're thinking that part of the motive may be, she's telling her paramour, her lover, that she's pregnant with their baby and she's really not pregnant, and so she's trying to steal this baby from this other woman's womb? 

NEAL:  It's certainly a possibility at this point based on her actions and what she was telling everybody.  That would be a viable possibility.

O'DONNELL:  So, has she admitted to any of this?

NEAL:  I can't—at this stage I can't really go into any statements she has made concerning the whole circumstances around the events. 

O'DONNELL:  What can you tell us about the teenager that found the pregnant mother with—in a pool of blood on the side of the road? 

NEAL:  As far as just what you had stated, the young man was out riding his four-wheeler last evening somewhere around 6:30, 7:00.  He was looking for a place to hunt.  He came—this is a very remote area.  Normally you don't see cars in this area.  He came along this vehicle out there. 

A woman who was later identified as Peggy Conner got out of the car.  He stopped.  She—you know she told him everything was fine.  He—they didn't need any help.  And as he left, he observed Valerie laying on the ground bleeding as he left.  He left the scene, got his father.  They called 911 and the state police and returned to the scene and that's how we got involved. 

O'DONNELL:  Lieutenant, I asked this to the local reporter, too, about how Ms. Oskin is doing.  People know that the baby is OK.  What's the latest you've heard on how the mother is doing. 

NEAL:  We did receive information late this afternoon from the hospital that she is still in serious, if not critical condition.  However, the doctors are optimistic that at this stage, it looks like she will survive barring complications, of course.

O'DONNELL:  OK.  Thank you.  Lieutenant Scott Neal, thank you. 

And joining me now to help us understand what drives some women to commit crimes like this is clinical psychologist Patricia Farrell. 

Let me ask you, Peggy Jo Conner already had three children, 38 years old.  What would drive her to do such a thing like this? 

PATRICIA FARRELL, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST:  Well you know it seems like there's a number of possibilities here.

Number one, they were good friends and obviously, something may have happened.  She had to be thinking that she was going to do this, as everybody has said.  She was kind of adding up all the indications that she was pregnant.  This is almost like either a psychotic kind of break took place here or this is a personality disorder where someone just decides that they want a baby and they're going to get it however they can. 

I don't know which scenario might be possible.  I think we need to know a lot more about this woman and I think as the case unfolds, we're going to find some rather bizarre things here.  But I have to say that young man is a hero and everybody should applaud him for what he did. 

O'DONNELL:  You're a psychologist.  What does it tell you about this woman, Ms. Conner, that she's been—already has three kids but she's been telling everybody including her lover that she's eight months pregnant.  Meanwhile, her neighbor really is pregnant...

FARRELL:  Right.

O'DONNELL:  ... and then she goes and beats her with a baseball bat and tries to rip this baby from her womb and tries to leave her for dead.

FARRELL:  It's incredible.  It's absolutely incredible.  I mean it almost sounds like she convinced herself that she was going to have a baby or that she was going to get a baby, however she could.  There almost seems to be some element of jealousy here. 

If they were such good friends, what happened?  What was the reason they befriended each other?  She knew, as a matter of fact, that this young woman had a caesarian scar and she knew that if she was going to do this, how she would do it.  So there was a lot of planning, but you know even people who have really serious psychotic disorders can plan very well.  That doesn't mean they can't plan, but they're not rational in the things they do, you know.

O'DONNELL:  You know it's interesting because these two women were neighbors.  And of course many people remember that case last December...


O'DONNELL:  ... Bobbie Jo Stinnett was killed for her unborn baby by a woman she met over the Internet...

FARRELL:  Right.

O'DONNELL:  Do women that commit these type of crimes, they usually try and develop a relationship with their victim in order to carry this out?

FARRELL:  Well I think in the two cases that we have here there definitely was an attempt to develop a relationship and a reason for being together and to have the other woman very comfortable in this woman's presence so that you know she could pretty much sneak up on her with a baseball bat or whatever and she would have never suspected she was in danger.  So there's—yes, there is that element of almost kind of slowly weaving this web so that they can get the person where they want, but I really want to hear more about her. 

O'DONNELL:  Well Patricia, thank you.  And the good news is that Mrs. Oskin's baby is OK and it looks like...

FARRELL:  Absolutely.

O'DONNELL:  ... she may be OK.  She's still in critical condition.  We'll continue to follow this case.

And coming up, it was supposed to be a party boat, but crewmembers say a boatful of Minnesota Vikings football players turned into a sex cruise.  Police are investigating could any of them be charged.

And Hurricane Katrina forced hundreds of sex offenders from their homes.  Now, U.S. marshals are tracking them down, one by one. 

And in our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike again.  Our focus today is on California.

Authorities are looking for Hector Gonzalez Camacho.  He's 43 years old, 5'5”, weighs 150.  Camacho was convicted of molesting a child and hasn't registered with authorities.

If you have any information regarding his whereabouts, please contact the California Department of Justice at 916-227-4974.

And we'll be right back.


O'DONNELL:  Coming up, Minnesota Viking football players being investigated for an alleged sex cruise.  The sheriff investigating the case joins us after the headlines. 



MIKE TICE, MN VIKINGS HEAD COACH:  I fashion these young men as my—extension of my family.  So as a father and a family man, you can sense probably how I would feel. 


O'DONNELL:  Minnesota Viking's head coach Mike Tice reacting to what's been called a floating sex party.  At least 17 members of his team named as being aboard two party boats last week that returned to shore early after the crew group—the crew on the boat was concerned about what they were seeing.  Reports coming out now of heavy drinking, lap dances and public sex acts.  Only one team member so far has owned up to even being on the cruise but he denies seeing anything like what's being described. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No strippers?  No sex? 

MEWELDE MOORE, VIKINGS RUNNING BACK:  No, no, none of that.  Sex?  What are you talking about?  Is that what?  Man, that's crazy.  Sex?  Come on.  Look, man I'm engaged so none of that.  Think about that.  That would be put me in trouble. 


O'DONNELL:  Well we're going to talk to the sheriff in a minute who's investigating whether any crimes were committed.  But first the team released this statement earlier this week and has been pretty tightlipped since.

Quote—“The organization has been made aware of the allegations involving our players and we take these allegations very seriously.  We are working diligently to gather as many facts as possible.  At this time we have no further comment.”

Joining me now Bob Sansevere, of the “St. Paul Pioneer Press” who has followed this story closely and has covered the Vikings since 1984.  Bob, what's the latest in this case? 

BOB SANSEVERE, “ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS”:  Well, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it's in a little bit of a holding pattern now because players are still not willing to talk about it, aside from Mewelde Moore who apparently is the only person in America, maybe on the planet who didn't hear about the allegations. 

O'DONNELL:  Well are there any other witnesses that have come forward?  I mean, supposedly, there were 90 people on these two boats and the only person that's alleging something went wrong are some of the crewmembers. 

SANSEVERE:  Well that's the thing that's most interesting about this.  When you look at a potential scandal of this scope, that really the only person speaking is Mr. Doyle, representing Al and Alma's and it's real interesting.  There's a lot of media in the twin cities and everyone's after this story.  But many people, 90 of them, aren't speaking. 

O'DONNELL:  Interesting.  All right, Bob, stick around.  Joining us now, Hennepin County Sheriff Pat McGowan, whose office is investigating the case and Stephen Doyle who represents the charter boat company. 

Stephen, let me start with you.  What exactly do your clients the crew of this boat, say happened on board? 

STEPHEN DOYLE, ATTORNEY FOR CHARTER BOAT COMPANY:  Let me see if I (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it wasn't for them, they went out on a cruise last Thursday that seemed to be a natural and normal cruise.  For all intents and purposes it started that way.  Not too long after that women started undressing, changing clothes, getting into relatively skimpy, if any, kind of exchange.

Some dancing started.  It was very intense, physical contact lap dancing.  Some of the recipients of that were having physical contact with the dancers.  Not too long after that, people started performing a variety of sexual acts.  There were toys—sex toys on board.  Oral sex took place.  It was a pretty astounding scene and this crew trying to do their job and do the right thing were really just astounded and that's a very quick superficial view of what took place. 

O'DONNELL:  You are alleging and the crew aboard this boat is alleging that a lot of stuff happened and what we're told is about 40 minutes because they turned the boat around.  Are you alleging that all of that happened within 40 minutes?

DOYLE:  No, I feel—it's a good question on the timeframe.  The protocol on the boat when something would go awry, which is historically almost never occurred, is that the crew tells the captains, the captains check it out to see if it's happening and to verify it their own selves.  They call each other and verify what's happening with each other, and then call home base.

Home base orders them back.  They were out about 40 minutes when they were ordered to return, so they had a 40-minute return, so we're really talking about this taking place, somewhere just under an hour and a half. 

O'DONNELL:  All right, let me bring in Sheriff Pat McGowan, who is investigating this case.  Sheriff, let me ask you, you've heard what Doyle has alleged and the crewmembers on board.  What credibility do you give them? 

SHERIFF PAT MCGOWAN, HENNEPIN COUNTY, MN:  Well our perspective is to conduct an objective investigation into it and that's what we're in the process of doing.  So I'm really—I'm not in a position to comment on who's saying what about who. 

Obviously, our job is to conduct the investigation, review it for potential charges, then submit that charging.  If there...

O'DONNELL:  But Sheriff, at this point, have you been able to confirm any of the allegations and are you going to make charges? 

MCGOWAN:  Well, number one is you interview people before you decide whether you're going to make charges.  The charges are predicated on the facts that come out based on interviews with people and we are in the process of conducting interviews. 

O'DONNELL:  Is there anybody, any other witness, other than the crew on this boat that say says that the Minnesota Vikings were having this sex party, this sex cruise, as Mr. Doyle alleges? 

MCGOWAN:  I think again that have you to start—don't forget when you interview people in a criminal case, you obviously start with people who would be witnesses, rather than moving in right away with people who are—who may be potential suspects. 

O'DONNELL:  Well let me then just ask you generally.  Are there other witnesses coming forward?  Can you confirm that? 

MCGOWAN:  I'm not going to confirm who we've spoken with because the case is under investigation.  We're still in the process of conducting our investigation and really it's—you know, I don't want to jeopardize any potential victim's right to come forward with charges by going and talking publicly for something that would contaminate that case.

O'DONNELL:  Well Sheriff, we were curious about this case, so we looked it up and the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District has rules that govern the lake that these party boats were on.  Specifically, there's an ordinance relating to cabaret and exotic dancing. 

Here are some of the rules.  It says—quote—“you may not depict sexual activities.  You cannot occur closer than 10 feet from any patron.  Performers cannot touch patrons and patrons cannot touch performers.  Patrons cannot directly pay or tip performers.  Performers cannot solicit pay or tips from patrons.”

From your investigation so far, have any of the people broken the law, or the district's rules? 

MCGOWAN:  Again, we're in the process of interviewing people and I can—if there are people that are identified and we can put a specific individual with a specific act, that will be our recommendation then for charging under those offenses. 

O'DONNELL:  Mr. Doyle, let me bring you back in here again, because again you represent this crew.  Have you been able to bolster your case by finding other any witnesses that say that these players for the Minnesota Vikings were engaged in these lewd acts?  

DOYLE:  I appreciate the question.  Let me first of all compliment Sheriff McGowan on his investigation.  The last couple of days I've spent time with two of the lead people there.  They're working their tail off to interview people and try to put the facts together and they seem to be doing a very nice job and trying to do it professionally. 

Secondly, it's not my interest or my intention to try to privately investigate this case.  The police are much more talented and experienced than me.  And so what we've been trying to do is find a way to cooperate with the police today.  I'm happy to reveal that I think seven of the crewmembers who were at my office were individually interviewed by the...

O'DONNELL:  Mr. Doyle, are you seeking private settlements from any of the Vikings players? 

DOYLE:  You've asked a question about what—I haven't even given it a consideration. 


DOYLE:  We've been in a responsive mode for three days.  We're trying to get the facts, trying to take young folks who were just traumatized by this, who are describing just horrific scenes and experiences they never wanted in their life.  Our focus has been on their safety, their good will, their comfort levels and to make sure they can help the police if they want and they're all stepping up to help the police. 

O'DONNELL:  Bob, let me bring you back in here from the St. Pioneer --  “St. Paul Pioneer Press”.  What's been the community reaction?  How has this affected the whole Vikings team? 

SANSEVERE:  Well I think the biggest reaction has been shock.  That as the allegations come out, I mean essentially what's been depicted is a floating Sodom and Gomorrah because you have two boats out there with things that are happening that are astounding the people.  Because they just can't you know fathom that something like this could be happening and I think there has been or can be—it could be damaging to the Vikings' attempt to get a new stadium. 

And you know there are a couple of things that I—if I may throw out a question for you to ask Mr. Doyle, it would be—he had mentioned that things started almost immediately.  Why did they go 40 minutes out?  Why didn't they call the border patrol?  And one final thing, when—what—you know what culpability is he concerned about Al and Alma's having? 

O'DONNELL:  Well those are all excellent questions.  I will allow you to follow up on them because I'm going to a break buddy, but thank you very much. 


O'DONNELL:  Sheriff Pat McGowan, Stephen Doyle and Bob Sansevere, thank you. 

And coming up, what's being done to track sex offenders on the loose displaced by Hurricane Katrina.  The U.S. Marshals Service now involved, tracking them down one by one. 

And later, she captured the hearts of many across the country, little Valery, found on the streets of New York, searching for her mother who was later found dead.  Her boyfriend is now under arrest.  Well tonight, there's been a bittersweet reunion. 

Your e-mails—send then to  Remember to include your name and where you're writing from. 


O'DONNELL:  Coming up, what's been done to track down sex offenders displaced by Hurricane Katrina?  The U.S. Marshals Service is now involved.  They join us next.


O'DONNELL:  Right here on THE ABRAMS REPORT every night Dan profiles missing sex offenders wanted by authorities.  In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, there was concern virtually throughout the country that registered sex offenders displaced by the hurricane would use it as a way to escape their criminal past and possibly as an opportunity to strike again. 

But tonight we've got good news to report.  The U.S. Marshals Service has loaned 15 of their expert fugitive hunters to track down missing sex offenders from the hurricane-ravaged region and they're making huge progress.

So joining me now, Commander Geoff Shank of the U.S. Marshals Service.  Thank you for being here and congratulations to all of you. 

Let me tell you on Saturday, you were given the names of 150 sex offenders that the states wanted help tracking down.  Just how successful, how many of them have you tracked down? 

CMDR. GEOFF SHANK, U.S. MARSHALS SERVICE:  Right now, you could safely say that we've found over 70 percent of that original list. 

O'DONNELL:  So that's huge. 

SHANK:  Yes, it is.  I mean that's standard for the U.S. Marshals.  I mean that's what we do nationwide amongst our other primary responsibilities, we consider ourselves the absolute best.  Hundreds of people and whether it's a fugitive, a missing person or a sex offender who's not compliant with their supervised release, we're going to find you.

O'DONNELL:  In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, how do you track these sex offenders down? 

SHANK:  It's much the same way as we cleared up the missing person list.  Out of 700-plus missing people, we found 97 percent of those individuals and we put that same work ethic towards finding these sexual offenders...

O'DONNELL:  But aren't some of these sexual offenders trying to hide from you?  I mean thinking that Hurricane Katrina gave them a shot to sort of escape their record, maybe disappeared to another state and start molesting children again?

SHANK:  Sure.  And that's just like a fugitive warrant.  They try to do the same thing and we're not going to stop until we find them.  And we have 83 district level and five regional fugitive task forces all across the country and our headquarters sent out a memorandum that if they got a different sort of lead this time, maybe not something where a person is actually wanted on a paper warrant, but to follow up on it anyway because we wanted to locate these people and as we always do, it's worked out fantastically. 

O'DONNELL:  Let me ask you.  So when you find one of these sex offenders, do you arrest them? 

SHANK:  No, absolutely not. 

O'DONNELL:  Why not?

SHANK:  It's more or less a compliance check.  It would take too long to explain the intricacies of the different state laws and how we go about actually getting a warrant, but we report that information back here to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and in New Orleans to the New Orleans Police Department.  If there's no pre-existing felony warrant on them, no, we don't arrest them.  We take down their information.  We advise them on how they can become compliant and also advise them that if they don't, the next time we're going to lock them up.

O'DONNELL:  Listen, everybody is glad to hear you've had a great deal of success with this.  But let me ask you, how is it that in the five days, you guys have tracked down all these sex offenders, but according to the most recent statistics from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, of the almost 550,000 sex offenders in this country, more than 160,000 are not registered as they should be.  Why can't you track the rest of these guys down like you've been doing from Louisiana and why... 

SHANK:  We are.

O'DONNELL:  Yes, I mean doing this program everywhere? 

SHANK:  Right.  We're doing it in locations all across the country.  I actually run the Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force in Chicago, Illinois and the state's attorney general out there started the Illinois Sex Offender Registration Team.  And I have 70 plus investigators in the city.  We arrest 200 or more sex offenders every year and that's in the Chicago area and the surrounding parts of Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana. 

So we are doing it all over the place.  Whenever we're mandated to track them down, whatever area we're in, we'll do it.  It's just a matter of us being the local—for instance, here in the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation came to me and said, hey, can you give us a hand tracking down these missing persons.


SHANK:  We did that.  It worked so wonderfully.  Then I offered back, said hey, let's start going after the sex offenders that have been displaced. 

O'DONNELL:  All right.  All right.  Congratulations to Geoff Shank and the U.S. Marshals Service for locking up and tracking down those sex offenders.  We appreciate it. 

SHANK:  Thank you. 

O'DONNELL:  And coming up, a bittersweet reunion for a little girl who captured so many hearts.

And continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, before they strike again.  Can we catch them?

This is Alexis Pineda, a 39-year-old Hispanic male, brown eyes and black hair, 5 foot, 150 pounds.  He was convicted of rape and has not registered with the state of California.

If you have any information regarding his whereabouts, please contact the California Department of Justice, 916-227-4974.

We'll be right back.


O'DONNELL:  You may remember 4-year-old Valery Lozada.  Many of you writing in to the show after you watched this video of her taken hours after she was found abandoned and wandering outside on a street corner in New York in Queens on September 25.  Reporters asked her...


VALERY LOZADA, FOUND ABANDONED IN NEW YORK:  She looks like a princess. 


O'DONNELL:  Turns out Valery's mother was missing.  A little over a week later she was found murdered.  Her ex-boyfriend allegedly confessed to murdering her and dumping her body on a pile of trash.  The body was later discovered by police in a Pennsylvania landfill.  He also allegedly confessed to leaving young Valery barefoot in the street in the middle of the night.  Well now there's been a bittersweet development in the story. 

Valery was finally reunited with her maternal grandmother who she calls mama Roxana.  Seen here dressed in black, the grandmother said Valery did not recognize her at first, but once she started speaking, she said Valery seemed to detect something familiar in her voice and asked her, are you grandmother from Bolivia?  Roxana said she used to talk to Valery at least twice a week over the phone from Bolivia. 

Valery's grandmother arrived in New York over the weekend to claim her daughter's body and to seek custody.  They were able to spend two hours together during which Roxana reported that Valery said to her mommy is dead.  Valery's father is in prison in Bolivia, but his family is also seeking custody of his daughter.  A family court judge is to decide which of Valery's relatives will ultimately be her guardian. 

And coming up, your e-mails of Dan's exclusive interview last night with the deputy police chief in Aruba on the Natalee Holloway investigation.


O'DONNELL:  And welcome back.  Time now for “Your Rebuttal”.  Last night Dan had an exclusive interview with the deputy police chief in Aruba who said the Natalee Holloway case could turn around in a couple of days and he believes the suspects could be arrested again. 

Marilin Rodon writes from Coral Gables, Florida—quote—“Your interview with Aruba's deputy chief of police shows that the Aruban authorities are covering up for the Natalee Holloway crime and are protecting their influential suspects.”

Dan then spoke with Natalee's mother, Beth Holloway Twitty, who responded to the deputy chief's comments about the case.  Some of you aren't too happy with Beth.

Kim writes—quote—“Finally, someone called Beth Twitty on her allegations and so-called sexual assault evidence against these three boys.  She has been allowed to trash the Aruban government, the three suspects, the prosecution, and the police without asking any one for proof.  I was very impressed with Dompig and how he did not call Beth Twitty a liar, but confirmed that Joran, Deepak and Satish have never admitted to having sex with Natalee in any police statements or sexual assault while going in and out of consciousness.”

Finally, Doug Maslanka from Charlotte, North Carolina says—quote—“My Boston Red Sox could have used your hitting powers with the homerun you smacked by virtue of the interview with the Aruban deputy police chief.  The only way this case will be resolved is by you and others continuing to put the Aruban police and government in the spotlight.”

Send us your e-mails to the abramsreport—one word --  We'll go through and read them at the end of the show. 

That does it for me.  I'm Norah O'Donnell.  It was a pleasure to be here.  Dan is back tomorrow. 

Up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews. 



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