Agent Gives Alibis for Alleged Crimes : Trial: Former DEA officer says he was out of town when he is accused of stealing drugs.

From United Press International

Darnell Garcia, a former U.S. narcotics agent on trial for alleged drug trafficking and money laundering, testified Thursday that he was out of town--in a doctor's office or in a courtroom--at the times he is accused of stealing drugs.

Testifying on his behalf for the first time in the jury trial in U.S. District Judge Terry Hatter's downtown Los Angeles courtroom, the former Drug Enforcement Agency agent said he was in a Miami hospital on the day he allegedly met with another former DEA agent, John Jackson, and reportedly talked about stealing drugs.

"Did you hear John Jackson's testimony that he told you in person on the 14th (Feb. 14, 1983) that he had stolen a pound of cocaine from (a drug suspect)?" defense attorney Mark Overland asked Garcia.

"Yes," Garcia replied.

"Did he tell you that on Feb. 14, 1983?" Overland asked.

"No," Garcia said.

"Where were you that day?" the lawyer asked.

"That day I was in Miami at Jackson Hospital," Garcia said.

Later, Garcia said he was at the hospital "all day" interviewing a drug suspect.

Jackson, 41, of Claremont and Wayne Countryman, 47, of Walnut, both former DEA agents, pleaded guilty to drug-trafficking charges in August, 1990, and testified at Garcia's trial in the hope that they will receive reduced sentences.

Prosecutors allege that Garcia, 44, of Rancho Palos Verdes has about $3 million in drug profits frozen in foreign bank accounts. They said the case represents the worst corruption scandal in DEA history.

Garcia contends the money represents profits he made through smuggling gold jewelry.

At another point in his testimony, Overland asked if it was true, as Countryman testified, that he and Countryman met at Garcia's home the morning of July 21, 1983, and discussed stealing drugs.

"Did you do that?" Overland asked.

"No," Garcia replied.

Garcia testified that at 8:45 a.m. on that date he was at an ophthalmologist's office for an eye exam before surgery that was scheduled the next month, and that he waited "over an hour" but that the doctor was in surgery and did not see him.

Overland asked Garcia if it was true, as Jackson had testified, that Garcia stole a pound of cocaine from a drug suspect Oct. 12, 1983, and Jackson gave Garcia several thousand dollars "as a reciprocal gift"?

"Did you do that?" Overland asked.

"No," Garcia replied.

"Where were you that day?" Overland asked.

"I was sitting in this courtroom in the audience (in a cocaine trial)," Garcia said.

Garcia fled the United States in late 1988 and was arrested in Luxembourg in July, 1989, ending an international manhunt.

Garcia's lawyers contend their client feared assassination by former colleagues upset over a racial discrimination lawsuit he had won against the federal agency.

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