03/23/2001

Ex-marshal charged over contact with McVeigh juror, Denver

By Mike McPhee, Denver Post Staff Writer,
March 21, 2001 Wednesday 1st Edition
Copyright 2001 The Denver Post Corporation
The Denver Post
March 21, 2001 Wednesday 1st Edition

(DENVER) - A retired deputy U.S. marshal has been charged with making misstatements about an affair he allegedly had with a woman who served as an alternate on the jury that convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Although the relationship began before the jury convicted McVeigh, the woman did not join in the deliberations. U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch ruled it did not affect the verdict, reached on June 2, 1997.

Benny Bailey, a popular marshal assigned to jury security in the federal courthouse in Denver, appeared before U.S. Magistrate-Judge Patricia Coan on Tuesday afternoon to plead not guilty to one count of making a false statement.

Bailey was under oath when he made the statement, which normally would carry a charge of perjury. But he was able to agree to a plea bargain with the Department of Justice to making a false statement.

No date was set for Bailey to return to court to change his plea to guilty. He was released on a personal recognizance bond.

Bailey, who served as a deputy U.S. marshal for 29 years and now lives in Centennial, could not be reached for comment.

According to documents, an anonymous fax was sent on Nov. 23, 1998, to a number of people involved with the case, including McVeigh's former attorney, Rob Nigh Jr. It stated Bailey and Mary Karen Munoz began sleeping together over Memorial Day weekend of 1997.

U.S. Deputy Marshal Larry Homenick investigated the complaint and concluded that the extent of the involvement was that Bailey and Munoz went out to dinner once. U.S. Marshal Tina Rowe stated she could find 'almost no calls' between the two.

A hearing was held before U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch, who had presided over McVeigh's trial. Bailey testified that he had talked on the telephone to Munoz about 15 times and they had dinner together twice and then had no more contact.

Matsch ruled that McVeigh's verdict would not be affected and then ordered the records sealed.

Still, the U.S. Department of Justice continued the investigation and found that the two had called each other 377 times and that they were sleeping together, according to court documents. The department also discovered that the source of the anonymous fax was Munoz's husband, Brett Miller.

Bailey's attorney, Peter Bornstein, would not comment about the case other than to say he was upset that the Justice Department waited until now to charge his client and then contact the media.

'They dragged Bennie's name into the mud for no reason,' he said.

The U.S. Attorney's office said it had recused itself from the case and that all actions came from the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section. That office could not be reached. 

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