Documents give Kerrigan suspects low marks for technical merit

February 03, 1994|By From Staff Reports

Tonya Harding has said she anticipates a movie about her, Nancy Kerrigan and American women's figure skating circa 1994. Harding wants Meg Ryan to play her. Here's a working title: "Clueless in Portland."

According to court documents released Tuesday, that's the image of the crew allegedly behind the Jan. 6 attack on Kerrigan, Harding's rival.

In 103 pages of FBI transcripts from interviews with four figures in the Kerrigan assault, an unappealing picture is painted:

* Shawn Eric Eckardt, Harding's bodyguard, is portrayed as a blustering mama's boy.

* Derrick Smith, the alleged getaway driver, saw his involvement in the assault in humanitarian terms.

* Shane Stant, the alleged hit man, was sidetracked on his initial mission to get Kerrigan because he was traveling with the wrong credit card.

* After the attack, Harding's sense of fair play was offended when her live-in ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, was shown her FBI interview.

The first three men have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the attack on Kerrigan at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. In Portland, Ore., Tuesday, Gillooly pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering as part of a plea bargain agreement.

The documents detailed FBI interviews with Gillooly, Harding, Smith and Stant. Though no transcript of an interview with Eckardt was released, he was very much the main character in the other documents.

Gillooly told the FBI that Eckardt's mother, Agnes Eckardt, was aware of the plot to injure Kerrigan.

In fact, Gillooly asked her at one point what she thought of it. "I think it will work," Agnes Eckardt replied.

This exchange took place in front of Harding, Gillooly said in documents, and she seemed surprised that Eckardt's mother knew of the plot. Agnes Eckardt told Gillooly and Harding she knew about Shawn Eckardt's activities, but wouldn't tell on him because he is her son.

Harding even appeared impressed by the Eckardts togetherness. After Gillooly told Harding that Agnes knew about all Shawn did, Harding replied, "That's kind of neat."

Two days before the attack on Kerrigan, Gillooly was in the Eckardt household discussing the progress of events while Agnes Eckardt was making fudge. But she did more than make fudge, Gillooly told the FBI; she also made airline arrangements.

She told Gillooly and her son that she'd made ticket reservations for Stant to fly from Detroit to Arizona. She'd gotten a corporate rate, she said.

Agnes Eckardt also apparently was very much the concerned mother. Five days after the attack, when Gillooly, Harding and Shawn Eckardt were increasingly worried about being implicated, Agnes contacted Gillooly on his pager and asked him to call her immediately. What was the emergency? Agnes just wanted to make sure that Shawn was going to go to school that day.

Much of the plot apparently revolved around Shawn Eckardt's efforts to become a big-time operator in the security business, documents said. However, Gillooly's transcript shows Eckardt was anything but.

* In one meeting, Smith had joked that Eckardt always could sell his Rolex watch to raise cash. But Eckardt could not even get his watch serviced, he said, because he'd already made an insurance claim against it.

* To help sell Gillooly on the idea of giving him the assignment to assault Kerrigan, Eckardt offered a "money-back guarantee."

* Eckardt tried to tell Gillooly that one of the men on the job in Detroit wasn't Stant, but his brother, Lance, "the more violent of the two."

* When Eckardt and Gillooly were wiring money to Smith from Portland, Eckardt asked a Western Union clerk about large transactions and was told that a group of Mexicans recently had sent $7,500. Probably drug money, Eckardt said. Shut up, Gillooly told Eckardt, because three or four people who looked Mexican were standing nearby.

* Eckardt believed a tape he'd made of a planning meeting -- during which Eckardt was heard proposing to kill Kerrigan -- would help protect Gillooly from extortion by Smith. Eckardt said he could bring the tape to the FBI.

In his interview, Smith portrayed himself and Stant as reluctant -- participants in the attack plot. The two discussed the plan, and agreed Kerrigan didn't deserve to be harmed. But, Smith said, Eckardt and Gillooly were determined, so Smith and Stant should go ahead, at least making sure Kerrigan didn't get hurt too badly. Their replacements really might hurt Kerrigan.

The first try to get Kerrigan, in Boston, was bungled, according to documents. Stant told the FBI he couldn't get a rental car when hearrived because he'd taken his fiancee's credit card, not his, by accident. (The use of personal credit cards, wiring of money and registering in hotels under their real names were part of a paper trail left by those allegedly involved.)

According to Gillooly, Eckardt told him that Stant and Smith also ended up stealing Kerrigan's car by accident one day. When the skater entered a convenience store with the car still running, the two went into her car seeking papers that would show her home address. Kerrigan emerged from the store while they were still inside her car, whereupon they drove it away.

Harding has maintained that she didn't know about the attack until after it occurred, and that was the story she told the FBI. She implicated Gillooly, though she didn't tell him right after her interview, Gillooly said. He received that information from the FBI. The FBI let Gillooly see notes on her interview? Harding asked. Yes, Gillooly replied. "That's cheating," Harding said.

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