APwv 10/29 0724 wv-(Krishna Case)
(CLARKSBURG) -- A federal judge has postponed a hearing on a motion to
remove U-S Attorney William Kolibash and his staff from a federal investigation
New Vrindaban, the country's largest Hare Krishna community.
The hearing was scheduled for yesterday before District Court Judges Robert
Maxwell and William Kidd, both of whom will preside over trials involving
However, Maxwell continued it until November fourth because Kidd was not
available yesterday for the hearing.
James Lees, a Charleston attorney representing the Krishna community of 700,
filed the motion this summer requesting that an independent counsel be named to
represent the government in its grand jury investigation of New Vrindaban.
Before the hearing was continued, Lees claimed that Kolibash and his staff
are generating negative publicity that has led to the Krishnas being "convicted
in the minds of the public."
In his motion, Lees cited publicity given to the investigation since it
began in September 1986, including newspaper and magazine articles quoting
Kolibash as saying the grand jury was delving into the death of Krishna
dissident Steve Bryant.
Tom Drescher, a Krishna devotee, has been charged with the 1986 murder of
Bryant in Los Angeles. Drescher, who is fighting extradition to California, is
serving a life sentence in the West Virginia Penitentiary for the 1983 murder
of fellow Krishna devotee Charles St. Denis.
Several residents of New Vrindaban have been indicted since the probe began,
including Drescher and the community's leader, Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada,
who are charged in an alleged arson-for-profit scheme.
The community also is being sued by United Features Syndicate and Major
League Baseball for alleged copyright infringment.
According to documents filed by Lees, the Krishnas contend that the
copyright suits were filed after the U-S attorney's office told the plaintiffs
about the alleged violations following a June raid on Krishna property. They
also contend that federal prosecutors solicited the plaintiffs to file suit.
Kolibash's office contends that it did nothing wrong in providing
information to the plaintiffs. It also has denied soliciting litigation against
Assistant U-S Attorney Bruce Smith says the publicity issue is being
"fanned" by the Krishnas themselves. He noted a Krishna advertisement that
appeared earlier this month in the Moundsville Echo. New Vrindaban is near
Moundsville, site of the state prison.
The ad, which featured a picture of Bhaktipada, featured a lengthy
dissertation about alleged "selective persecution" of the Krishnas by local,
state and federal authorities.