FBI probers still compiling bribery "sting" evidence

Federal investigators are getting ready to present evidence of congressional bribery to grand juries in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

But their two-year undercover operation, in which FBI agents posed as representatives of wealthy Arabs, produced so much evidence -- including tape recordings and video tapes -- that it may be a month or so before they can sort through it and have their cases ready to present to grant juries.

Meanwhile, the investigation is continuing and expanding, Federal Bureau of Investigation sources have told the Monitor.

One US senator and seven congressmen have been mentioned so far as subjects of the bribery probe. Top FBI officials say other federal lawmakers are likely to be targets of the investigation.

Other congressmen disclosed to have been subjects of the FBI "sting" operation are US. Reps. Michael O. Myers, Raymond F. Lederer, and John P. Murtha , all Pennsylvania Democrats; John W. Jenrette Jr. (D) of South Carolina; and Richard Kelly (R) of Florida.

It is known that FBI investigators allege Sen. Harrison A. Williams Jr. (D) of New Jersey met several times with undercover agents and that he agreed to accept stock in return for his help in getting a government contract for the bogus Arab shiekh. Rep. John M. Murphy (D) of New York is alleged to have accepted $50,000 from undercover agents in return for promises to help the "sheikh."

Other developments, meanwhile:

* In the first of dozens of arraignments expected in several cities in connection with the bribery case, Alexander Alexandro, a private citizen who is a New York resident, was arraigned Feb. 4 in federal court in Brooklyn. FBI sources said he "figures prominently" in the case.

* New Jersey Attorney General John J. Degnan launched his own investigation of Senator Williams, US Rep. Frank Thompson Jr. (D) of New Jersey, and state Sen. Joseph Maressa (D) of New Jersey.

* The IRS will begin a probe into the finances of all those implicated by the FBI in the bribery scandal.

* The FBI announced that it was launching a separate investigation into "leaks" by FBI agents in the bribery scandal case. FBI Director William Webster said there would not be any official bureau comment on the matter because it is a continuing investigation.

Nevertheless, FBI sources claimed privately to have an "ironclad" case against Senator Williams and the seven congressmen.

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