Convicted political corrupter W. Patrick Moriarty has been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury in Las Vegas in connection with a new investigation of former Special Forces Lt. Col. James (Bo) Gritz, Moriarty's lawyer and Gritz said Thursday.
Moriarty paid Gritz about $2,000 in 1989 in connection with business trips that Gritz made to China, Singapore and other areas of Asia, said Jan Lawrence Handzlik, Moriarty's attorney. Handzlik said that Moriarty is not a target of the federal probe.
Gritz made headlines in the early 1980s with an unsuccessful foray into Laos in search of American Prisoners of War from the Vietnam War. He was acquitted last year on charges of using a false passport. Gritz and other sources said the new investigation also involves allegations of use of a false passport.
He said he was introduced to Moriarty at Lompoc Federal Prison a few years ago while Gritz was visiting a mutual acquaintance. At the time, Moriarty was serving his 29-month sentence on political corruption charges.
Gritz said the government is wrong if it thinks he used a false passport while traveling for Moriarty.
"This is the only time I think I have ever gone to Southeast Asia when I wasn't doing something clandestine," he said in a telephone interview from Las Vegas. He said the Moriarty trip from July 3 through July 25, 1989, was to negotiate an oil contract between China and Indonesia on behalf of Moriarty's new firm, Associated China and American Trade Corp.
"It was strictly legitimate business," Gritz said. "I guess they (federal authorities) think I probably took some side trips . . . (but) they're wasting their time. I was there really for one reason and that was to negotiate an oil interest that he (Moriarty) had set up between the People's Republic of China and Indonesia."
Gritz said the contract was "pending" at the time he left China and he does not know how it turned out. Moriarty was not available for comment.
Handzlik, attorney for Moriarty, said the former fireworks magnate has been subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury in Las Vegas June 7.
"I have been assured by the U.S. attorney in Las Vegas (Richard J. Pocker) that Mr. Moriarty is not a subject of this investigation," Handzlik said. "Rather, he is considered to be a witness and has been asked to produce records. Mr. Moriarty will comply with this request."
Pocker declined to comment on the probe of Gritz, saying he would "neither confirm nor deny" the existence of the investigation.
Gritz acknowledged his past use of a bogus passport, but said it was part of clandestine work on behalf of the U.S. government. He accused the State Department of waging a vendetta against him because he repeatedly has raised allegations of drug dealing by U.S. government officials in Southeast Asia.
"The reason I was indicted (on the first passport charges) is because I would not cover up government drug involvement," he said.
As head of Red Devil Fireworks in the 1980s, Moriarty was at the center of a political scandal that led to the indictments or convictions of himself and 11 other politicians and business associates on charges of laundering political contributions, bribing city officials and other corruption counts.