Friday, April 30, 2010

Linda McMahon Halts ‘Voter Bounty’; Now ... What About the Tip on the Steroid Doc?

Congratulations to Brian Lockhart of the Stamford Advocate for his report on the $5-per-head “bounty” offered to the employees of Linda McMahon’s voter registration drive at the University of Connecticut.

In response to the negative press, McMahon says that she didn’t know about the operation and is ending it.

Still unexamined is a story that I think is of at least equal importance: the report earlier this month that a federal prosecutor in 1989 was alleged to have tipped McMahon and the predecessor company of her World Wrestling Entertainment that a Pennsylvania ring doctor, George Zahorian, was under investigation for illegally pushing steroids to wrestlers.

Zahorian was convicted on federal charges in 1991 and served prison time. Vince McMahon and the McMahons’ company, then called TitanSports, were acquitted of related charges at a trial three years later.

Previously, the tip to the McMahons was believed to have come from inside the Pennsylvania state government. But when Ted Mann of The Day in New London produced an unredacted copy of Linda’s December 1, 1989, memo to another wrestling executive, she said the tip actually had come from James J. West, who at the time was the U.S. attorney for the middle district of Pennsylvania.

West denied to Mann that he had tipped Jack Krill, one of the McMahons’ lawyers.

No Connecticut newspaper – not even The Day itself – has yet probed the contradictions between West’s account and WWE’s. Linda McMahon’s memo said Krill got the word from West at a “fundraiser.” West said he would not have been attending a “political fundraiser.” The possibilities that a current candidate might have been involved in obstruction of justice, and a U.S. attorney in misconduct, are very serious.

A week ago, after West refused to comment further to me, I queried the current U.S. attorney, Dennis C. Pfannenschmidt, who has not responded. Today I forwarded my faxes to Pfannenschmidt’s boss, Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler.

Irv Muchnick

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