1 06-07-88 08:59 ped
Kolibash to convene special grand jury on organized crime today
ELKINS, W.Va. (UPI) _ U.S. Attorney William Kolibash is to convene
a special grand jury today to hear evidence on alleged organized crime
activity in the northern part of the state.
While refusing to talk about specifics, Kolibash said the grand
jury probe would focus on drug and gambling operations. A murder
investigation involving the Hare Krishna commune near Moundsville also
could be presented to the jury.
"They're not just drug organizations. They're criminal
organizations," Kolibash said. "What they really are are racketeering
"Some of that has come out of our drug cases, where the people who
are buying and selling the drugs are also controlling the gambling."
Prosecutors have acted upon search warrants issued against
suspected gambling outfits in Martinsburg, Clarksburg and Wheeling.
Kolibash said federal investigators may overlook small-time
gambling such as football tip boards or an occasional poker game hosted
by neighborhood pubs. But federal investigators become interested when
evidence surfaces that 10 or 20 such operations may be controlled by a
single individual or group.
"Let's say you have five, six, seven thousand dollars going
through one certain establishment," he said. "You multiply that by 20
and that gets into a significant amount of money."
Another target of the grand jury investigation could be a "murder
conspiracy involving Hare Krishnas," according to a U.S. Justice
Department petition. The Krishnas' 500-member community at New Vrindaban
in Marshall County is located in Kolibash's Northern District.
Today's grand jury was called by U.S. District Judge Robert
Maxwell, but only after the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond,
Va., suggested that he reconsider an earlier refusal to convene the
Maxwell, in refusing to call the grand jury, said prosecutors had
been vague about what the panel would do.
"The U.S. attorney's office and the district court don't always
see eye-to-eye on different things," Kolibash said. "But as long as we
get our fair hearing when we go into court, that's all we want."