A federal judge refused Friday to give defense consultant Melvyn Paisley the detailed affidavit FBI agents filed to justify searching the former Navy official's office in the Pentagon procurement fraud probe.
U.S. District Judge John H. Pratt told Paisley's lawyers their request to see the search-warrant application was merely "an attempt on your part to find out information the government has with respect to your client.""Pre-grand jury, you want the government to deal its cards face up. How often does the government do that?" Pratt asked Paisley's lawyer, E. Lawrence Barcella.
Barcella argued that the government had not proved there were exceptional circumstances to warrant sealing what is normally a public document.
He said Paisley, the Navy's former research and development chief, was entitled to see the affidavit to determine if the June 14 search of his Washington consulting business was legally proper.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Aronica argued that the government wants to keep search warrant applications under court seal for a limited period of time because of concern about the "possibility of the destruction of records as well as other forms of possible obstruction" of the investigation.
Release of the detailed affidivits, which identify "subjects and targets" of the probe, could hinder the investigation, Aronica said.
He noted that "the government does not have possession of all the documents we believe are relevant to the investigation," Aronica said.
Aronica argued that "the only reason we are here is because Mr. Paisley wants to see what the government has on him."
"If and when Mr. Paisley is indicted by a grand jury, the federal rules of criminal procedure provide the means of discovering the evidence the government has on him," Aronica said.
Barcella said "the suggestion that destruction of documents would take place if it (the affidavit) were given to us has no basis."
Paisley was seeking to inspect the affidavit, not place it in the public record, and Barcella said he was willing to abide by any court order to keep it secret.
But Pratt said he was concerned about leaks of confidential information about the case. Given the breadth of the investigation, the judge said he couldn't guarantee that the Paisley affidavit would not be leaked.
The document "is extremely detailed, it names a lot of names," the judge said.
The investigation focuses on allegations that defense contractors and consultants, many of them former military men, bribed Pentagon officials for contracting details that could be vital in winning contracts worth billions of dollars.
Paisley resigned as assistant secretary of the Navy for research, engineering and systems in 1987 to become a private consultant for several defense contractors, including McDonnell Douglas, Martin Marietta, Pratt & Whitney and LTV.
His office telephone was tapped for much of the 18-month investigation. Pratt noted in court that he has been reading weekly wiretap reports for 45 weeks, though he didn't specify if they were about Paisley's telephone.