Lawyer outlines a broader conspiracy in search for FBI documents on Oklahoma City bombing
The Salt Lake Tribune | April 17, 2007
A Utah attorney alleges informants gathering information on Timothy McVeigh or his associates warned the FBI about the plot to bomb the Oklahoma City federal building but the agency took no action to stop the 1995 attack.
Jesse Trentadue also says there were others involved in carrying out the bombing besides McVeigh and Terry Nichols, despite investigators' conclusion that they were the only ones responsible for the crime.
The allegations are made in a brief filed Monday in a lawsuit by Trentadue, who believes his brother s death in a federal prison was
linked to the bombing. The suit, which seeks documents from the FBI under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), alleges that
authorities mistook Kenneth Trentadue for a bombing conspirator and guards killed him in an interrogation that got out of hand.
Trentadue noted in his brief that on Thursday, it will be 12 years since 168 people died in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in downtown Oklahoma City.
"It will also soon be twelve years since the murder of Kenneth Michael
Trentadue, and three years since Plaintiff started out to
obtain proof that his brother . . . became the 169th victim of the Bombing when he was tortured to obtain information he did not have
and eventually was strangled with a pair of plastic handcuffs," the lawyer wrote.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah, which represents the FBI, received a copy of the brief late Monday afternoon and was still reviewing it.
The FBI could not be reached for immediate comment. However,agency officials previously have denied any advance notice of the
plot or mishandling of the investigation into the bombing. They also adamantly deny any wrongdoing in Kenneth Trentadue's death, which was ruled a suicide after several investigations.
In the brief, Trentadue contends he has documented that at least seven informants were involved with McVeigh and his associates. The informants were allegedly participating in sting operations targeting a white-supremacist compound in Oklahoma and a gang suspected of
robbing banks to fund attacks on government buildings. McVeigh, who was executed in 2001, had links to both, Trentadue says.
He alleges that the sting involving the white-supremacist compound a Christian Identity settlement in Adair County, Okla., called Elohim City was a joint operation by the FBI and the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization based in Alabama. He claims there is evidence that the SPLC, which heard about the impending attack from the informants, warned the FBI.
SPLC director Mark Potok could not be reached Monday, but previously has said his group never had an informant or anyone else at the compound and did not know about the plot.
Trentadue has asked U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball in Salt Lake
City to allow him to conduct depositions of two men who likely know about the sting operations. They are Nichols, who is serving a life sentence for his part in the attack, and federal death row inmate David Paul Hammer, who was housed on the same prison tier as McVeigh for almost two years.
Hammer spent much of that time "listening to McVeigh describe the
bombing in minute detail, including the identities of others involved," according to the brief.
Trentadue claims the depositions will prove that the FBI has failed to turn over all relevant documents.
Lawyers for the FBI say the agency has made appropriate searches for documents requested by Trentadue. They also say judges in FOIA
cases do not have the authority to order depositions.
Kenneth Trentadue, who had served time for bank robbery, was arrested near San Diego in June 1995, two months after the bombing. He later was sent to the transfer center in Oklahoma City for an alleged parole violation.
On Aug. 21, 1995, guards found Trentadue's blood-soaked body in his cell hanging from a noose made of torn bedsheets. Prison officials say the 44-year-old inmate committed suicide. However, the inmate's family insists that Trentadue was mistaken for John Doe No. 2, a suspect sought in connection with the bombing who turned out to be bank robber Richard Lee Guthrie.
Jesse Trentadue claims his brother resembled Guthrie. Both men were about the same height and build, he says, and both had a tattoo of a dragon on the left arm. In addition, Kenneth Trentadue drove a Chevy pickup truck, the same kind of vehicle John Doe No. 2 was reported to be driving.
Guthrie was eventually captured and struck a plea deal in 1996 on bank robbery charges. A few months later, he was found hanged in his
cell in Kentucky in what was ruled a suicide.
In Monday's filing, Trentadue includes a 2004 affidavit by former Cincinnati police Officer Matthew James Moning, who investigated
suspected members of the Midwest Bank Robbery Gang from August 1993 to June 1994. Moning claims he was told by a Secret Service agent
that Guthrie killed himself after being told "that he was going to be executed for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing case."
Moning writes in the affidavit that he believes a third member of the gang, Shawn Kenny, and his wife, Tabitha Kenny, were government informants being paid "by the F.B.I. and Secret Service for God knows what.' "
Other exhibits attached to Trentadue's motion include:
A declaration dated April 9, 2007, by Peter Kevin Langan, who was convicted along with Guthrie and other members of the Midwest
Bank Robbery Gang.
Langan, currently an inmate in a federal prison in Illinois, claims he was coerced in 1993 into being an informant for the Secret
Service. He claims that Guthrie told him that cohort Kevin McCarthy was John Doe No. 2 and then said, "Your young Mr. Wizard [Kevin
McCarthy] took out the Murrah Building."
McCarthy served five years in federal prison and was released on probation, according to law enforcement officials. His whereabouts are unknown.
A 2004 letter from Nichols to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft offering to give information about other participants in the bombing.
Nichols, who is housed in a federal penitentiary in Colorado, alleged that two witnesses at his state and federal murder trials lied with the knowledge of prosecutors. He said one witness, Arkansas gun dealer Roger Moore, obtained explosives for McVeigh.
In an affidavit submitted in February as part of Trentadue's lawsuit, Nichols said Ashcroft never responded to this 2004 letter
offering to identity all parties who had a role in the bombing.
Drawings by Nichols showing three versions of the bomb that blew up the Murrah Building.
One is the configuration that McVeigh allegedly described to the wife of Army friend Michael Fortier of Kingman, Ariz. Lori Fortier
said McVeigh illustrated the V-shaped bomb at her home by using soup cans to represent barrels containing fertilizer.
Another drawing is the configuration of the bomb that Nichols says he constructed with McVeigh the day before the attack, which also was barrels in the shape of a V, with bags of ammonium nitrate fertilizer soaked in fuel oil at the point.
The third is a J-shaped pattern that McVeigh described in American Terrorist, an authorized book chronicling his life and the attack. In his February affidavit, Nichols said the book version was bigger than the one he built with McVeigh on April 18, 1995, and "displayed a level of expertise and sophistication which neither McVeigh nor I had
in building a bomb."
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