Did Linda McMahon Obstruct Justice? (8th in a series – Some of These Allegations Are Hardly ‘Revisits’)

“[Vince] would like you to call [Dr. George] Zahorian to tell him not to come to any more of our events and to also clue him in on any action that the Justice Department is thinking of taking [emphasis added].”

Linda McMahon “CONFIDENTIAL INTEROFFICE MEMO” to Pat Patterson, December 1`, 1989

***

“At no time did they ever charge anybody with any kind of obstruction of justice or whatever it is you were suggesting…”

World Wrestling Entertainment lawyer Jerry McDevitt to Ted Mann of New London’s The Day


++++++++++

Brian Lockhart of Hearst blogs nimbly on the electoral dynamics of Rob Simmons’ Monday press conference attack on Linda McMahon. See “In the shadow of the capitol, Rob Simmons tries to cut loose against McMahon/WWE,” http://blog.ctnews.com/politicalcapitol/2010/04/12/in-the-shadow-of-the-capitol-rob-simmons-tries-to-cut-loose-against-mcmahonwwe/.

Independent of the Senate horse race, however, I believe Lockhart stumbles in characterizing Ted Mann’s story in The Day as a “revisit” of allegations of obstruction of justice by Linda McMahon prior to the 1994 federal trial of her husband Vince and their wrestling company on steroid-trafficking charges.

Until the publication of the Mann report, the world had not seen the unexpurgated memo that Linda sent on December 1, 1989, to then World Wrestling Federation executive Pat Patterson.

It’s true that there was testimony, both at Vince’s trial and at that of WWF ring doctor George Zahorian three years earlier, of Patterson’s maneuverings as he proceeded both to fire Zahorian and to tell him to destroy records – both arguably results of Linda’s directive.

But the 1994 jury was not shown the redacted paragraph of the memo in which Linda told how the McMahons got wind of the criminal investigation of Zahorian. Nor, until last week, was the public.

Linda said federal prosecutor James West tipped WWE lawyer Jack Krill at a “fundraiser.” West has denied this to The Day. Who tipped the McMahons and how is hardly a “revisit” of a resolved question. And revisit or not, it is an important question in the vetting of a major candidate. Lockhart and the rest of the Connecticut media might want to spend less time grading each other and more time getting the story.

Even less of a “revisit” is the 1995 Village Voice article by Bill Bastone – reprinted in full on this blog yesterday – with a different potential obstruction-of-justice scenario: the machinations of Martin Bergman, husband of McMahon defense counsel Laura Brevetti. By any standard, Bergman’s contacts with star prosecution witness Emily Feinberg were irregular.

That issue, like the Linda McMahon memo, is not settled by whether Bergman was ever charged with a crime. The Bastone story shows that Bergman was a well-connected henchman of New York’s former mayor, Rudy Giuliani, so it is hardly surprising that he skated.

I am researching contemporaneous news coverage to further answer to what extent the Bergman story could be considered a “revisit.” So far as I know at this point, the one and only pickup of the Voice piece in 1995 was in the New York Post. I’ll be reporting more shortly on that aspect of an old tale that, thanks to Linda McMahon’s Senate run, is freshly pertinent.

Irv Muchnick

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