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Witnesses Invoke Fifth Amendment

July 20, 1991

WASHINGTON (AP) - Two leaders of what Senate investigators call a sham Cherokee Indian nation invoked their constitutional protection against self- incrimination and refused to testify before a Senate subcommittee investigating insurance fraud.

Dallas Bessant, a British citizen known as Wise Otter, and William Fry of Dallas, known as Bear Who Walks Softly, invoked the Fifth Amendment several times Friday in response to questions by Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., chairman of the investigations subcommittee of the Governmental Affairs Committee.

″We will continue investigating organizations such as those in which you ... are involved,″ Nunn said in dismissing the two.

John Sopko, deputy chief counsel to the panel, reported on the ″Cherokee″ group’s links with several ″offshore″ reinsurance companies whose business supposedly is sharing risks with other insurance firms, generally without strong regulation by their home governments.

″The staff found that the group of individuals who call themselves the Sovereign Cherokee Nation is neither sovereign, nor Cherokee, nor a nation,″ Sopko said. ″It is a sham, run by a group of ‘white’ or ‘Anglo’ Americans for the sole purpose of financial self-enrichment.″

Investigators in at least three states had found earlier that key assets of several reinsurance companies were apparently worthless bonds issued by the ″Indian″ nation.

--- Police Arrest Man with Bloody Shoes after Chase Through Zoo

WASHINGTON (AP) - Police captured a man sought for questioning in a homicide after a two-hour chase through woods and animal cages on the grounds of the National Zoo.

The man, whose identity was not released, was captured Friday near the animal hospital on the grounds of the zoo, a branch of the Smithsonian Institution.

He had ″some blood on his shoes,″ said Dennis David, of Alexandria, Va., a keeper.

Davis said the object of the police chase ″put up very little resistance″ when he was finally cornered by officers.

Secret Service spokesman Mark Rupert said a jogger flagged down a uniformed Secret Service officer on a road through Rock Creek Park in Northwest Washington and pointed out a trail of blood leading into the park.

Police said a body was found in the park. They did not give details.

Later, a bloodstained man was seen near the zoo, about two miles away, police chased him onto the grounds, said Rupert.

The zoo remained open throughout the manhunt, which was carried out by U.S. Park Police and uniformed officers of the Secret Service.

The zoo occupies 163 acres, about 70 of them wooded, in a residential area two miles north-northwest of the White House.

--- Powell Praises Intelligence Work

WASHINGTON (AP) - The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is praising the nation’s intelligence community Friday for its ″absolutely superb″ work during the Persian Gulf war and presented awards to 70 of its officers.

The awards ceremony where Gen. Colin Powell made his remarks, held Friday at CIA headquarters in suburban Washington, came three days after the Pentagon sent a report to Congress citing serious intelligence shortcomings during the 43-day war.

Powell thanked the award recipients for the ″absolutely superb effort you put in to make sure our commanders in the field ... had the very best information and intelligence possible so they would have a decisive edge when they put their lives on the line.″

His comments and details about the event were provided in a press release by the CIA.

Powell praised outgoing CIA director William Webster as ″a great champion of the intelligence community,″ saying ″we will miss him very much.″

One of the major problems, according to the ″Lessons Learnt″ report, was sifting information about the Iraqi enemy. It cited problems in informing commanders about the daily changes in the enemy’s status - particularly providing satellite and aerial reconnaissance information about damage from allied bombings.

The report echoed complaints from the allied commander of the war, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, that by the time field officers received intelligence data ″it had been caveated, disagreed with, footnoted and watered down to the point that estimates could have supported any outcome.″

--- Justice Rejects New York City Council Redistricting Plan

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Justice Department has vetoed a plan to redraw the New York City Council district lines, charging that it weakened Hispanic voting power in a handful of districts.

″In many areas of the city, minority voters will now have an opportunity to participate in the political process and to elect candidates of their choice to office for the first time,″ Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights John R. Dunne said Friday in a letter to the New York City Districting Commission.

″However, it seems that in at least two areas of the city, the inappropriate choice was made to draw particular districts at the expense of Hispanic voting strength, causing the Hispanic electorate to be unfairly underrepresented on the council.″

The plan, which would increase the number of City Council seats from 35 to 51, grew out of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1989 that the government of the nation’s largest city violated its one-person, one-vote rulings on the makeup of legislative bodies.

When a new City Charter was adopted later that year, the council was enlarged to ensure greater minority representation.

The Justice Department was charged with determining whether the redistricting plan satisfied the Voting Rights Act, which says district lines may not be drawn to dilute the voting strength of minorities.

But the redistricting plan has drawn fire from some minority leaders. The Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Puerto Rican-Latino Voting Rights Network and the Community Service Society have challenged the plan in court.

At a news conference Friday, Dunne said the discrimination was intentional because the commission ″knowingly rejected alternatives which would have enhanced the voting power of Hispanic communities.″

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