Prosecutors Link Car Dealer McCune to Case : D.A. Says Vice-Charge Fugitive Was Given Aid

Times Staff Writer

A San Diego defense lawyer received money from National City car dealer Tony McCune for a fugitive client charged with operating a prostitution ring, the district attorney's office claimed in a complaint lodged Wednesday.

The allegation was contained in the complaint filed in Municipal Court charging the lawyer, Buford B. Wiley Jr., with aiding the flight of Karen L. Wilkening, who had been charged with operating a call girl service out of a Linda Vista condominium.

Wilkening, 42, went into hiding almost 20 months ago after she failed to appear for a preliminary hearing Sept. 22, 1987. The complaint accuses Wiley of being a central figure in a plan to allow Wilkening to flee to an unnamed country while telling authorities she had gone to Mexico because she feared for her safety.

McCune, who operates McCune Chrysler-Plymouth in National City, was not charged Wednesday, but his name appears in the complaint as having provided Wiley with an unspecified amount of money "for the benefit" of Wilkening while she was in hiding.

Known for TV Commercials

McCune, who is best-known for his television advertisements in which he appears with his dog and uses honest as a byword, could not be reached for comment.

Wiley is charged with four felonies, including conspiracy to commit a crime, being an accessory to a felony and helping provide a false identity for Wilkening. Wiley, 45, was released on $500,000 bail Tuesday night and is to be arraigned Tuesday in Municipal Court.

Wilkening, who was apprehended Monday and is being held at an undisclosed location, is named in three of the charges, including the conspiracy and false-identity counts. She is expected to be arraigned at the same time as Wiley, said Steve Casey, a spokesman for the district attorney. But Casey declined to give further details about her arrest or detention.

Wilkening, who was charged with 28 counts of pimping and pandering, had been a fugitive since a $50,000 bench warrant was issued by San Diego Municipal Judge William Mudd when she failed to appear for her preliminary hearing Sept. 22, 1987.

At that time, Wiley told Mudd that Wilkening had fled to Mexico and produced a letter addressed to him from Wilkening and postmarked in Mexico saying her life was in danger. Wiley also said Wilkening had left a message with his answering service that she was in Mexico and would not appear in court. Wiley said in an interview afterward that he was told the threats came from people whose reputations were at stake if the hearing went forward.

The district attorney's office charged Wednesday that Wiley's statements and the letter were part of a cover-up to allow Wilkening to flee the country.

The complaint also charged that Wiley helped Wilkening obtain a U. S. passport under an assumed name, that he visited her in December, 1987, in another country, that he gave her $6,000 about that time and that he forwarded mail from her to other people, including McCune.

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