Data withheld, agent says Weston withheld records from FBI, agent testifies.

April 26, 1991|By Kelly Gilbert | Kelly Gilbert,Evening Sun Staff

Retired Navy Capt. James E. Weston repeatedly withheld his Amway business records from a federal grand jury during an investigation of alleged contract corruption at the U.S. Naval Academy, an FBI agent has told a jury at the captain's criminal trial here.

Agent Thomas Drewry also testified that Weston, in an FBI interview last June, denied receiving gifts from, or doing outside business with, contractors who bid on Navy jobs while he was public works officer at the academy from 1985 to 1989.

But Drewry said records the FBI seized from Weston's Henderson, Nev., home on a search warrant last August -- six months after the grand jury subpoenaed them -- showed that the captain sold thousands of dollars worth of Amway products to several contractors with whom he conducted academy business.

The seized records filled in blanks between Weston's books and adding machine tapes, which delineated some of his Amway sales, and other documents the FBI obtained directly from Amway, the agent said.

But Drewry said he "never found . . . numerous missing pages" in Weston's records that allegedly would show the true extent of the captain's sideline dealings with academy contractors.

Drewry, who testified yesterday, was the final prosecution witness at Weston's conspiracy, bribery and obstruction-of-justice trial in U.S. District Court.

Attorney William M. Ferris said he will call Weston and his wife, Mary, to testify in the captain's defense next week. The trial is to resume Monday, with the case expected to go to the jury by midweek.

Prosecutors Jane F. Barrett and Richard C. Kay have presented witness testimony and evidence to show that contractors bought Amway products from Weston and his wife. Weston allegedly took official actions to ensure that some of the contractors got lucrative construction work at the academy in return.

In one instance, contractor Ward Miller bought a $1,000 set of encyclopedias from Weston the day after Miller got a painting job at the academy.

In another instance, Annapolis contractor Carroll R. Dunton bought more than $5,000 worth of Amway products from Weston a week after the contractor received a $2.6 million Navy job.

Dunton testified that he bought nearly $25,000 worth of Amway products from Weston and gave the captain such items as lawn mowers, air conditioners, a washer and dryer and gasoline for his motor home.

He testified that Weston got him "preferred bidder" status for Navy contracts and once showed him a list of future contracts on which he could consider bidding.

Other academy officials have testified that Weston pressed them to justify awarding Dunton a $961,000 heating, air-conditioning and ventilation contract for Rickover Hall that the Navy estimated at $619,000.

Dunton, who has pleaded guilty to giving Weston illegal gratuities and bribing a former Annapolis housing official, said he billed Navy contracts for the items he bought to give to Weston and his Amway purchases from the captain.

Miller testified that he bought Amway products from Weston because he "didn't want anything to go wrong at the Naval Academy" when he bid on construction jobs there.

"I knew if it did, I had friends in high places," Miller told the jury about his relationship with the captain.

Miller said he bought a $1,000 set of encyclopedias from Weston the day after he received an academy painting contract.

Drewry testified that Weston gave some Amway records to the grand jury last spring and gave him more records in June.

But the agent said the records contained "numerous" missing pages that were not filled in until the FBI searched Weston's home and seized more records from stored boxes, a briefcase and the captain's desk.

Drewry portrayed Weston as a reluctant investigation target who had to be prodded, with documents the FBI already had, into admitting some of his sideline relationships with academy contractors.

Weston admitted in the FBI interview that he had sold Amway products to Dunton, but denied selling goods to other contractors -- until the agent produced a ticket that showed a sale to Miller, Drewry said.

"It appeared that both Mr. and Mrs. Weston were startled," said the agent. "Then the captain said he had sold Amway products to Miller."

Weston also claimed in that interview that he had paid Dunton for all the items the contractor bought for him, in cash or by checks or traveler's checks, Drewry testified, but the captain never produced any receipts or canceled checks to support his claim.

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