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U.S. Acts to Drop Charges Against 2 in Bombing Case

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Times Staff Writer

Federal prosecutors moved Friday to dismiss charges against a millionaire real estate broker and an Israeli woman accused in a fatal mail bomb attack, pending extradition proceedings against a Jewish activist who is also a suspect in the case.

U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian said he would sign the dismissal order, filed a week after a mistrial was declared when a federal jury failed to reach a verdict in the case against West Los Angeles broker William Ross, 52, and Rochelle Ida Manning, 48.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Nancy Wieben Stock said the government might seek to retry the two if Manning’s husband, Robert Steven Manning, is extradited from the Israeli-occupied West Bank to face trial in the July, 1980, mail bomb attack that killed a Manhattan Beach secretary.

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Positive Indications

In a new development, Stock said U.S. authorities have received positive indications from the Israeli government that Robert Manning will be extradited on the charges.

“I see no legal barrier to the extradition, nor has anybody officially turned us down in the request,” Stock said.

Should the United States succeed in extraditing Manning in the Manhattan Beach case, authorities here would be prevented from trying him on other charges for which he has not been extradited, including four bombings in 1985, Stock said.

Demolitions Expert

Manning, a self-styled demolitions expert and charter member of the Jewish Defense League’s West Coast chapter, is a suspect in the Santa Ana office bombing that killed Arab activist Alex Odeh.

In the Manhattan Beach case, the prosecution argued that Ross had asked Manning to mail the bomb when he became enraged at businesswoman Brenda Crouthamel Adams when she was negotiating to buy his house.

The secretary for Adams’ company, Patricia Wilkerson, 32, was killed when she opened a parcel addressed to Adams.

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‘Series of Mistakes’

“The case as presented by the government is based on an ongoing series of mistakes--factual and conceptual,” Ross’ lawyer, Mitchell W. Egers, said in an unsuccessful motion to win a full acquittal for his client.

Michael Adelson, Rochelle Manning’s attorney, said after the hearing: “We’re pleased that the government made a decision not to retry Rochelle. We’ve always believed that she’s innocent.”

He said Rochelle Manning plans to go to Israel to rejoin her family, and prosecutors said they might have difficulty returning her to the United States should the government decide to seek a new indictment.

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