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Condit Legal Troubles; Manhunt For Nikolay Soltys

Aired August 29, 2001 - 12:30   ET



REP. GARY CONDIT (D), CALIFORNIA: You have to question Anne Marie Smith's motive. Her motive is to sell a story to the tabloid, that's what she did. And for you to embrace that as just a regular news story...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm trying to ...

CONDIT: ... is a little bit questionable to me.


GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CO-HOST: Today on BURDEN OF PROOF: Anne Marie Smith wants Congressman Gary Condit indicted. Could it happen?

Plus, an international manhunt for a suspect in a family massacre. Will old Cold War intelligence foes join forces in the search for Nikolay Soltys?

ANNOUNCER: This is BURDEN OF PROOF with Roger Cossack and Greta Van Susteren.

VAN SUSTEREN: Hello, and welcome to BURDEN OF PROOF. A condit resignatio; no, not the congressman, but his children. Last night, they sent a letter to Governor Gray Davis announcing their resignation.

Plus, lawyers for flight attendant Anne Marie Smith filed a complaint with the Stanislaus County grand jury, seeking indictments against Condit, his chief of staff and his investigator.

Joining me from Modesto, California, is Stanislaus County District Attorney James Brazelton. From New York, we're joined by Jim Robinson, the attorney for Anne Marie Smith. And in Los Angeles, Sterling Norris of Judicial Watch, the conservative legal organization which is working with Smith's legal team. Here in Washington: Aaron Koch, Ross Greenman and Matthew Herb. Also from Modesto, CNN national correspondent Bob Franken.

Before we get to Bob Franken, I just want to play for the viewers a comment earlier today. The Levys stepped outside, as they often do, and spoke to reporters outside. Here is what they had to say.


QUESTION: And I'm hoping you can set the record straight, there's a lot of confusion. Was there a specific request by you, by the two of you, asking Mr. Condit not to speak about a relationship that he had with your daughter?




VAN SUSTEREN: Bob, let me go to you now in Modesto. Seems to be a little controversy. The congressman seems to think that he was respecting the wishes of the Levys in not speaking about his relationship with Chandra Levy. Now the Levys have come out and saying that there was no such agreement.

What do you make of that?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually the request did not come in Modesto, it came from Washington, were the Levy family attorney was on CNN's Wolf Blitzer program at 8:00 p.m. earlier this month, in which he said that the Levys, with whom he represents -- who he represents, were not interested in hearing about the relationship, about the feelings that their daughter Chandra had for Congressman Condit, not interested, He said, in hearing what the feelings were in reverse. They were not interested in that, said the attorney Billy Martin.

That was seized upon by Congressman Condit and his lawyers as evidence that there was not -- they didn't want a discussion about the relationship. Now we just heard Dr. Levy, the father of Chandra Levy, saying that was not their intent.

VAN SUSTEREN: Having cleared that up, let me turn the corner now, Bob, to the issue of the Condit children. Explain that to us.

FRANKEN: Well, the Condit children were very, very unhappy, as we found out, very unhappy when Governor Gray Davis said the other day he was disenheartened by the lack of candor on the part of Congressman Condit, look of candor in his eyes.

Now, Gray Davis is a long-time friend of Gary Condit's. Condit had worked for him in the primaries when Gray Davis was behind in 1998. More importantly, the two young Condits, Chad Condit and Cadee Condit, worked for Governor Gray Davis. But yesterday, they drove to Sacramento and presented their letter of resignation to the chief of staff, Lynn Schenk, saying, we quit. We don't feel that Gray Davis has been a friend, that he's only been somebody interested in the poll numbers.

So, that was exactly what happened.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK. Other news, let me go to Jim Robinson in New York. Jim, your client wants the congressman indicted. Why? JIM ROBINSON, ATTORNEY FOR ANNE MARIE SMITH: Well, we've been waiting in Washington, D.C., for things to happen. There's obviously joint jurisdiction between California in this case and Washington, D.C. Usually people fight over jurisdiction, as you know criminal attorneys like to get the jurisdiction, move forward.

There are political problems, obviously, in northern California. We just talked about the children, the governor...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, what's the motive? What does your client think -- why does she was an indictment for obstruction of perjury? What's her beef?

ROBINSON: We are trying to get the truth out. There's a case against...

VAN SUSTEREN: But, why not let the investigation go forward in the District of Columbia, which may be -- we call it a missing persons, but it may indeed eventually turn into a murder investigation. Why run the risk of stepping on that investigation?

ROBINSON: Because there is joint jurisdiction here, and there should be things going on in California, and they're not going on. That's why we are doing it.

Don Thornton should be pressured to give up Mike Lynch, that's how these things go on. They're not happening, we are pushing. Of course we are pushing.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Sterling Norris, let me go to you. You were district attorney at one time. You are helping Jim Robinson and Anne Marie Smith. Do you worry that in seeking some sort of grand jury indictment in California, you are going to impede or hurt a missing person's investigation, and possibly a murder investigation in District of Columbia?


In fact, it is normal in the criminal justice field to do just exactly what we are attempting to do. We have evidence that they conspired to obstruct justice and subordinate perjury. If in fact we get an indictment and a conviction on that, that puts pressure on Condit, Lynch and Thornton and many other people that are involved in this to perhaps come forward with evidence.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, tell us who...

NORRIS: That is a normal, normal procedure.

VAN SUSTEREN: Tell the viewers who Mike Lynch and Don Thornton are, to bring them up to date, Sterling.

NORRIS: I'm sorry. I didn't catch it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Tell me who -- tell the viewers who Mike Lynch and Thornton are and why they are important. NORRIS: Yes.

Mike Lynch is the chief of staff of Congressman Condit who initiated this affair by calling Anne Marie and telling her to call Thornton, who worked for the lawyer Cotchett, who also represented Congressman Condit.

And that is how the affidavit eventually came to Mr. Robinson and to Anne Marie, the false affidavit. They came -- Mr. Condit came to call Anne Marie at least three times, attempting to get her to sign that. And in the light of the missing Chandra Levy, when Mr. Condit is so anxious to have her sign this, I think it put a great deal of fear in her, a reasonable fear, that she might be next.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Jim Brazelton, you're the DA in Stanislaus County. This has sort of fallen into your lap: the question of the affidavit and whether there was any criminal conduct with this proposed affidavit. What do you make of the request from Jim Robinson and Sterling Norris on behalf of Anne Marie Smith?

JAMES C. BRAZELTON, STANISLAUS CO. DISTRICT ATTY.: Well, I again reviewed the documents. And I, frankly, feel that there are no criminal charges alleged.

And let me, first of all, indicate to you that I am not interested in protecting Congressman Condit or anybody else involved in this. I'm interested in seeing to it that the truth comes out. The documents that were presented to me are requesting a grand jury indictment for obstruction of justice.

First of all, there's no California statute regarding obstruction of justice. That's a federal statute. I believe that the...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, let me ask Jim Robinson. Let me stop right there. And let's take it one by one.

Jim Robinson, the DA says no California statute obstruction of justice, no crime. What do you say?

ROBINSON: I toss that to Sterling. He's the California attorney. And that's why I went to him.

VAN SUSTEREN: No, he said -- but this is a federal. And they're saying that this is a federal matter.

ROBINSON: We are saying that this is California statute; this is California law. There is California statute on suborning perjury. There is California statute on obstructing justice.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, Sterling, what do you say in response to Jim Brazelton?

NORRIS: Mr. Brazelton is absolutely wrong. Try 182.5 of the penal code.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. NORRIS: Conspiracy to obstruct justice. It's been there since 1872, a subordination of perjury, section 127 in the penal code. That's there. They're all...

VAN SUSTEREN: OK. Jim Brazelton, you've heard Sterling. Sterling says there is a crime there. How do you respond to that?

BRAZELTON: The crime he is citing is conspiracy. And there are certain things you have to show to prove a conspiracy. One of them -- the only overt act that is alleged that took place in this county is a person asking Anne Marie to make a telephone call.

There's certainly no law against that. There's no law against having sex with somebody. And about four years ago, what was known -- or is known as Condit's rule was enacted. And it says that there's an exception to all laws regarding perjury, false swearing, witness tampering and obstruction. That exception, known as the Clinton rule, says that you cannot be prosecuted for any of these crimes if the subject matter being lied about is sex.

I intend to present the information they give me to the grand jury. They have already filed the paper with the civil grand jury. They came in wanting to file with the criminal grand jury, which is not one of their avenues that they can take. And Mr. Norris would certainly know that.

But, in any event...

VAN SUSTEREN: And so we will, of course, be watching this. We'll see what happens with this filing with the civil grand jury. But we need to take a break.

My thanks to Jim Robinson, Sterling Norris, Jim Brazelton and our Bob Franken.

Up next, a man on the run: We'll get an update on the search for the latest addition to the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list.

Stay with us.


In a rare move, the Justice Department recently subpoenaed the home phone records of an AP reporter covering its investigation of Senator Robert Torricelli's 1996 Senate campaign. The AP president and CEO says they are "outraged" and "will seek any available redress." The U.S. attorney's office refused to comment.



VAN SUSTEREN: Police have been searching for Ukrainian emigrant Nikolay Soltys for more than a week. Soltys is suspected of killing six members of his family in Sacramento, California last Monday. Among the victims, his pregnant wife and young son. Now, this man has been on the run, and has been added to the FBI's 10 most wanted list. Joining us from Sacramento To discuss the latest in this manhunt is FBI agent Nick Rossi, Sergeant James Lewis from the Sacramento County sheriff's department and Kammi Lloyd, KFBK radio reporter.

First to you, Sergeant Lewis, what is the latest? Any tips, closer to finding this man?

SGT. JAMES LEWIS, SACRAMENTO COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT.: Well, we're up to about 900 tips, in the process of going through, recanvassing some areas where the crime occurred, where the vehicle was recovered to try to generate fresh lead, hot trail.

VAN SUSTEREN: When you say you're recanvassing the area, give me an example, what are you actually doing, knocking on doors, asking peoples question? What kind of questions are you asking?

LEWIS: Well, we're going door to door, handing out flyers to make sure everybody has got the mess message, and it's a dual purpose. We want to also do a welfare check on the people in those neighborhood to make sure that there's not someone that's being held hostage or who has had contact and been threatened by Nikolay.

VAN SUSTEREN: Nick, you are with the FBI -- it seems to me, if I was involved in the investigation -- obviously nobody's asked me -- but that I would be particularly interested in the area where the car was found, because he no transportation, He's on foot, at least as far as we know, and probably not much money. Are you focusing on that area?

NICK ROSSI, SACRAMENTO FBI AGENT: Well, actually the area where the first car was found was one spot. But there was subsequent sighting, and it was a fairly credible sighting, of him in a 1990s vintage green Ford Explorer. And so our best guess at this point is that he fled the spot where he abandoned his first car, which was a Nissan Altima, and then somehow got to a second vehicle and then fled the area in that, so we don't think he's on foot.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is that likely a stolen car? Was there a report of a stolen Ford Explorer, or did he have access to one.

ROSSI: Well actually, it wasn't reported stolen, so that's one of the mysteries in this case, is whether or not it's a car that already had access to, or whether perhaps he's got someone who is helping him either out of fear or out of compassion, who is helping him get away.

VAN SUSTEREN: What makes you say that it's a credible tip. What makes this any different from any other one?

ROSSI: What makes it a little bit more believable than the other tips we've received to this point is that the witness who made that sighting, made it before his son Sergey had been murdered, and provided it with very specific information about the victim that had not been released publicly, and that led us to believe that in fact it was a true sighting. VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so if there's no carjacking reported, no stolen Ford Explorer reported, you know, it seems apparent that he's at least working with someone, or someone is helping him, right?

ROSSI: Well, it's hard to say whether someone is helping him or whether or not he simply had access to more vehicles than we are aware of. One of the things that we find in the community here is that a lot of the folks in the Russian-Ukrainian community in Sacramento are involved in auto repair and restoring salvaged vehicles, and so he may have had access to more vehicles than one would normally expect. Certainly it wouldn't necessarily have been registered in his name or anything like that.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, to get a little bit more on the community, let's go to the phone. We have Lubomyr Hajda on the phone, the associate director Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University.

Lubomyr, what can you tell me about the Ukrainian community and how this may make it more difficult, or perhaps easier to investigate.

LUBOMYR HAJDA, HARVARD UKRAINIAN MEDICAL INST.: The first thing that should be said is Mr. Soltys, it appears to me, is Mr. Soltys is a member of the new Ukrainian community, which is not part of the traditional community in the United States, and is not integrated into the larger community.

The Ukrainian community traditionally has consisted of people who have come over the last 100 years or so. They have been centered around the traditional churches, which are Orthodox and Greek Catholic, with an agenda of their own religious expression, and cultural and political matters.

The New wave of immigrants since 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, includes people of a very different type who come here for different reasons, who have different religious backgrounds, and do not necessarily melt into the existing community. So it is difficult to speak about a Ukrainian community into which Mr. Soltys may be somehow connected, but rather, in particular, community in his area.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me go back to Sacramento.

Kami, covering this story, do you have a sense the community is uneasy about what is going on from the police?

KAMI LLOYD, KFBK RADIO: Absolutely, uneasy. The White Rock Elementary School, where two of the youngest victims of this murder rampage attended class, counselors, they had extra security when school started on Monday of this week. Counselors were on hand, psychologists talking to students. And one school official says that students have a gone up to them, and says, what if he comes become for me? There is a lot of unease, a lot of fear in the Ukrainian community, since there is no idea where Nikolay Soltys is. They would like this guy caught as much as detectives would.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, we're going to take a quick break. We'll have more on the search for suspected killer Nikolay Soltys, when we come back.



Q: Why was Rodney King, whose videotaped beating by police officers led to the 1992 Los Angeles riots, arrested on Tuesday?

A: King was arrested for suspicion of being under the influence of the psychedelic drug PCP. Previous brushes with the law include drunken driving and hit-and-run convictions.


VAN SUSTEREN: Police have been searching for suspected killer Nikolay Soltys since he allegedly killed his wife, son and four other family members. A $120,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of Soltys. In a minute, we're going to give you the phone number you can call if you perhaps have seen him or may know something.

But, let me go back to Sergeant Lewis. The funeral was this week, or last week, for the family members. Did you have police there to see if perhaps he attended it, and did you videotape the audience, or do anything like that to see if he attended the funeral?

LEWIS: Yes, absolutely. We did have a pretty strong contingency of law enforcement there, much like we would for dignitary protection. The funeral service went off without a hitch. We estimated there were over 5,000 people that attended the service. So, it was...

VAN SUSTEREN: Any chance he was at that service? Any tips that he was among the mourners?

LEWIS: We had one subject detained that resembled him, but as it turns out it wasn't. So, we have had no sightings as a result of that service.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK. Nick, the FBI has numbers that people can call in. For English speaking people who might know something, what number should they call.

ROSSI: 1-800-471-1700.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, now that's English. Now, if you're Russian speaking, or Ukrainian, what's the other number to call?

ROSSI: There's a second number. That's 1-800-340-5100.

VAN SUSTEREN: Nick, I'm struck by the fact that -- I'm still fixated on the transportation thing. Obviously, if he has a Ford Explorer he can get. But I assume that the borders, the Canadian- American borders are watching for him. Is that right?

ROSSI: Absolutely. We've spoken to Interpol. We've also talked to the RCMP and other law enforcement agencies. We've put checks at the borders. It's tough, especially when you talk about the Canadian border, it's a relatively porous border, but we're doing what we can to make sure that he can't get out of this country.

VAN SUSTEREN: But you know, Nick, it would seem to me that if you are Ukrainian and you leave the community, that you are almost like a sore thumb, you're going to stick out. Isn't he easier to find at that point?

ROSSI: That's our hope. We've heard that he speaks English at about a fourth grade level, and he's got a rather thick accent. So, it's our hope that if he does try to leave the community, if he tries to flee the country, that he will stick out.

The unfortunate thing is that there are pockets where he can fit in, and there are long haul truckers, others who speak Russian, who speak Ukrainian, and who may -- impossible as it is to believe, with all the media coverage that this case has gotten -- may not know who he is or what he's accused of.

VAN SUSTEREN: Kami, I've read reports that he is a troubled man. What could you tell me about his history, if anything?

LLOYD: We'd like to find out a little bit more about Nikolay Soltys' history. A profiler is going to be brought, and typically profilers are brought into cases when you don't know the suspect. In this case a profiler is brought in to give us a better idea of who the suspect is, take a look into the mind of Nikolay Soltys.

We've got dueling reports, we've got reports that he was a small- time crook who extorted money out of neighbors in the Ukrainian community here in Sacramento. We've also had reports that he was a lazy bum, and would do whatever he could not to work. So, we're hoping that a profiler will give us a better insight into who this man is. If we can get a better insight into his personality, where he might.

VAN SUSTEREN: Kami, though, are the reports that he -- that there was sort of -- that he was a disturbed man, maybe even beat his wife -- I mean, obviously I haven't verified it myself, but I'm always so curious. Are -- is there something we know about his personal background?

LLOYD: Well, detectives are also talking with detectives in the Ukraine. There were reports coming out of the Ukraine that Nikolay Soltys went after his wife there with an ax. That they had a history of domestic violence before moving to the United States. Nikolay Soltys came in 1998, his wife came about five months ago to the United States. There were reports that she didn't want to come because of the history of domestic violence between the couple.

Lyubov, the wife who was murdered, her parents say the couple had a history of domestic violence, and they said that to a Ukrainian newspaper. So, as I noted, detectives are investigating that aspect of their relationship.

They're also looking into reports that before coming to the United States, he tried to get into the Ukrainian army and was rejected because he was mentally unfit. Those are all aspects of Nikolay Soltys the detectives are trying to confirm, and hopefully give us a better insight into who this guy is.

VAN SUSTEREN: Nick, obviously a disturbing background information. Armed and dangerous, I assume, is the way the FBI considers this man. What does it mean to be on the top 10? Does that mean anything in terms of whether or not he's more likely to be captured than not?

ROSSI: Absolutely. Over the history of the top 10, we've had about 466 fugitives on the list, 437 of those have been caught. They're being caught not only in the U.S., but outside the U.S. The last two top 10 members to be caught, Eric Rosser was arrested in Thailand just last week.

VAN SUSTEREN: What difference does it mean to be on the top 10? Does it mean -- you're not ignoring everybody else, right?

ROSSI: Absolute not. But what it means to be on the top 10 is basically two things. Number one, it brings an addition $50,000 to the table in reward money; and number two, when we set leads, investigative leads to our offices across the country and overseas, and ask them to follow up on reported sightings, if it is a top 10 fugitive that request goes to the top of the list of every other request they have gotten on a fugitive case.

VAN SUSTEREN: Sergeant Lewis, are you going to find this guy?

LEWIS: I sure hope so. We are very optimistic that he's still in the area, that we're going to be able to flush him out. Ultimately, we couldn't do this without the public's help, without the intense media coverage that it's gotten. We know that we're just one phone call away from a hot lead that's going to lead to his discovery.

VAN SUSTEREN: Again, the phone number, English speaking, is 1- 800-471-1700. If you speak Russian or Ukrainian, it's 1-800-340-5100.

Thanks to all my guests today. And thank you for watching.

Today on "TALKBACK LIVE": Little league scandals - a new age in sports? Tune in at 3:00 p.m. eastern time.

And tonight on "THE POINT": Why is the National Organization for Women getting involved in the case of Andrea Yates? She is the Houston woman facing charges of killing her own children. That's at 8:30 eastern time.

And I'll be back tomorrow with another edition of BURDEN OF PROOF. we'll see you then.



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