Tags: Federal | Indictment | Waco | Probe

Federal Indictment in Waco Probe

Wednesday, 08 November 2000 12:00 AM

William Johnston, who resigned in January as a federal prosecutor in Waco, was charged in a five-count indictment returned Wednesday by a federal grand jury. He was charged with obstructing the investigation and making false statements to investigators.

The indictment was revealed in the final report of Danforth, appointed by Attorney General Janet Reno last year to investigate behavior of government officials on April 19, 1993, the final day of the 51-day siege when more than 80 Davidians died during a fire.

Danforth restated conclusions in his July 21 interim report that government agents did not start the fire, shoot at the Davidians, improperly use the military or engage in a cover-up.

He said there was no evidence of any wrongdoing by Reno or other high officials.

Danforth said the responsibility for the deaths rested with Davidian leader David Koresh, who died during the fire. Responsibility also lay with several of his followers, who shot and killed four federal agents, later burned the complex and shot at least 20 of their own people, including five children, Danforth said.

Reno was prompted to appoint Danforth because of allegations that government officials covered up the fact that the FBI Hostage Rescue Team had fired three pyrotechnic tear gas rounds four hours before the fire, possibly igniting the inferno.

Danforth said there was no "widespread conspiracy" to cover up the use of the tear gas rounds, which he said did not cause the fire. He said government officials did not disclose the information because they legitimately did not know they were used.

Danforth said some members of the Justice Department team that prosecuted Davidians in a 1994 criminal case knew about the pyrotechnic rounds and wrongly chose not to disclose the information to defense lawyers, Congress, and others in the Justice Department.

Johnston was one of those federal prosecutors and was investigated because his notes on a 1994 pretrial meeting, in which the use of pyrotechnic tear gas grenades was discussed, were found to be missing. He later denied knowledge of the meeting, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald.

Johnston's attorneys contend he was "unfairly targeted" because he criticized the government for covering up information about the grenades for years. He resigned in January after writing a letter to Reno, warning her of the cover-up within the agency.

Copyright 2000 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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William Johnston, who resigned in January as a federal prosecutor in Waco, was charged in a five-count indictment returned Wednesday by a federal grand jury. He was charged with obstructing the investigation and making false statements to investigators. The indictment...
Federal,Indictment,Waco,Probe
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2000-00-08
Wednesday, 08 November 2000 12:00 AM
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