North Had Phony Papers on Security System, Jury Told
Lt. Col. Oliver L. North helped prepare a set of phony documents after he was fired from his White House job to create the impression that he had paid for a $13,800 security system installed at his home, jurors at North’s federal court trial were told Tuesday.
Glenn Robinette, a private security consultant who arranged for the installation, testified that he had helped North create the bogus documents even though an associate of North, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Richard V. Secord, actually had paid for the security system.
Robinette said that he did not know why North wanted the false documents shortly after former President Ronald Reagan fired him from his job at the National Security Council in late November, 1986.
Arms Sale Profits
North was fired when former Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III went on national television to disclose that he was investigating North’s role in the diversion of Iranian arms sale profits to Nicaragua’s rebels.
“I did not know what to think,” Robinette testified, describing a phone call in which North told him: “Hey, buddy, you never sent me a bill for that security work you did for me.”
Robinette said that he had met jointly with North and Secord earlier in 1986 to discuss improving security for North and his family at their suburban Virginia home. Although payment was never discussed, Secord--who had retained Robinette to handle the job--later sent him $16,000 to cover $13,800 in improvements plus Robinette’s fees and expenses, the witness said.
Robinette said that North, whose White House duties included combatting international terrorism, told him that he had received threatening phone calls, that sand had been put in his automobile’s fuel tank and that mysterious packages had been left in his roadside mailbox.
Among 12 felony counts on which North is being tried is a charge that he accepted an unlawful gratuity--the home security system. Prosecutors have not yet shown the source of the $16,000 but have alleged that the money came from funds handled by Secord in connection with Iranian arms sales.
The security system included an electronic gate, high-powered lights, alarms and two-way communications equipment, Robinette said. He told jurors that he later paid $140 to repair the system, with funds provided by Secord, after North’s wife, Betsy, telephoned him to report that a heavy rain had damaged some of the wiring.
Secord is due to be tried separately later this year for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal.
Prosecutor John W. Keker, out of the presence of the jury, asked U.S. District Judge Gerhard A. Gesell for permission to show jurors that Robinette had lied before a federal grand jury in 1987 to minimize the roles of North and Secord in covering up payment for the security work.
‘CIA Devious Mind’
Gesell took the request under advisement before dismissing jurors at noon Tuesday, remarking that Robinette, a former CIA employee, “has got a CIA devious mind.”
“Such a person can react that way without anyone putting it in his mind,” the judge said.
To demonstrate the alleged cover-up, Keker had Robinette identify for the jury a back-dated letter written by North in which North said he could pay for the system in 24 monthly installments or else offer his “commercial endorsement” of Robinette’s security work after his planned retirement from the Marine Corps.
Robinette said that those options never, in fact, had been discussed.
Prepared Phony Bills
For his part, Robinette said, he prepared back-dated letters and phony bills describing the security work and sent them in sealed envelopes to North, after his firing, in care of his attorney, Brendan V. Sullivan Jr. There was no testimony that Sullivan, however, had taken part in the scheme or even knew of it.
“Why did you send these things to Mr. Sullivan?” Gesell asked.
“I wasn’t comfortable sending them to Col. North’s home because of the troubles with his mailbox,” Robinette replied. “I was more comfortable sending them to him at his lawyer’s office.”