WASHINGTON -- A senior FBI executive pleaded guilty yesterday to destroying an internal report critical of the agency's performance in a 1992 standoff with a white separatist at his remote Idaho cabin.
The official, E. Michael Kahoe, who was chief of the violent crime and major offenders' section at the bureau's headquarters, admitted to a single felony count of obstruction of justice, an offense punishable by a maximum term of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Judge Ricardo M. Urbina of U.S. District Court postponed sentencing pending Kahoe's cooperation with prosecutors, who are investigating whether Kahoe's superiors at the agency sought to conceal their actions after the Idaho confrontation. Kahoe has been suspended with pay and is expected to resign in January, officials said. His intention to plead guilty was announced last week.
Kahoe's plea came one day after the bureau disclosed it was investigating possible misconduct by agents who had interviewed Richard Jewell in the Olympics bombing.
Federal prosecutor Eric W. Sitarchuk provided a fuller account yesterday of how Kahoe had destroyed the internal "after-action report," a document written by a subordinate in November 1992 as federal prosecutors in Idaho were preparing to try the separatist, Randall C. Weaver, and a friend in connection with the incident.
The encounter began Aug. 21, 1992, when Weaver's son was killed in a shootout on Ruby Ridge in which a federal marshal was also shot to death. A day later, after the FBI flew its elite Hostage Rescue Team to the scene, an FBI sniper shot and killed Weaver's wife. Weaver surrendered Aug. 31.
Later, federal prosecutors in Idaho asked officials at the bureau's headquarters to turn over "reports of any evaluations or critiques" of the FBI's performance. Kahoe was directed to meet the request, but did not provide the report to the prosecutors or inform the Justice Department that the document existed.
Sitarchuk said Kahoe did not want Weaver's lawyers to read the report, which referred to "problems" in the agency's conduct. The prosecutor did not describe the problems, but they included confusing orders that violated the bureau's rules by permitting agents on the scene to shoot Weaver or other adults, regardless of whether they represented a threat to the agents.
From January 1993 to April 1993, when the Weaver trial began, Kahoe gathered the copies of the report, which he threw in his "confidential trash." All such material is shredded and pulverized before leaving FBI headquarters.
Sitarchuk said in court that Kahoe then went to Evans and told his subordinate that he had "canned" the after-action report and that Evans should "do the same."
Pub Date: 10/31/96