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Copyright 1990 The New York Times Company  
The New York Times

July 12, 1990, Thursday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section A; Page 22, Column 1; National Desk

LENGTH: 597 words

HEADLINE: U.S. Says Arrest Might Aid in Bomb Investigation

BYLINE: By RONALD SMOTHERS, Special to The New York Times



Federal agents investigating a rash of bombings in the Southeast last December said today that they hoped the arrest on other charges of a man who was the focus of their investigation would eventually strengthen the bombing case.

The man, Walter Leroy Moody Jr., was indicted Tuesday on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in a case of Bomb possession dating to 1972.

Earlier this year, Federal officials began investigating Mr. Moody in connection with the bombing deaths of Judge Robert Vance, of the Federal appeals court, in Mountain Brook, Ala., and Robert Robinson, a lawyer in Savannah, Ga.

Agents have said Mr. Moody is ''the focus'' of their investigation into the bombings.

Mr. Moody's lawyer, Bruce Harvey, today called Tuesday's indictment of his client the investigators' ''consolation prize'' from their six months of intensive, but so far inconclusive, focus on his client.

''This has nothing to do with the bombing investigation,'' Mr. Harvey said. ''This has been a six-month intensive investigation by at least six agencies of the Federal Government. They have issued at least nine search warrants aimed at my client, and President Bush has said that this is a priority case, and what they come up with is not an indictment in the mail bombing case. Well, I call this charge a consolation prize.''
Move Could Draw Witnesses

Investigators in the case, who spoke on the condition that their names not be used, said today that they hoped the arrest and detention of Mr. Moody would prompt witnesses in the bombing case to come forward.

Sam Wilson, the Assistant United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, who is prosecuting the perjury and obstruction of justice case, has asked that Mr. Moody be held without bond under provisions of Federal law that permit pretrial detention of anyone considered a threat to potential witnesses or jurors. A hearing will be held Thursday on his request.

Investigators working on the bombing case say that in their opinion Mr. Moody is capable of intimidating potential witnesses.

Mr. Wilson would not comment on whether the case was connected to the continuing investigations into the bombings last year.

But as Mr. Moody was being arraigned Tuesday in Macon, seated at the table with Mr. Wilson was Louis Freeh, who was appointed in May to be special prosecutor in the bombing investigation.

The perjury case grew out of appeals that Mr. Moody, a 56-year-old freelance literary consultant, filed for a 1972 conviction for Bomb possession.

Mr. Moody, who lives in Rex, Ga., was indicted with his wife, Susan, on 13 counts of perjury, bribery, obstruction of justice and tampering with a witness.
Indictment Relates to Testimony

The indictment charges that in the most recent of many appeals by Mr. Moody, he and his wife engaged in a scheme to place responsibility for the Bomb on someone else and enlisted an Atlanta woman and her mother to give false testimony in a 1986 hearing.

The women are cooperating with prosecutors, and, last April, were placed in a witness protection program after they expressed concerns about their safety.

Jack Killorin, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which is part of the Federal task force working on the bombing case, said that the current charges, quite apart from any connection with the bombing investigation, were ''serious allegations which stand on their own.''

If convicted on all the charges, Mr. Moody faces as many as 69 years in prison, and his wife as many as 64. Each could be fined $1.2 million.

Louis Freeh