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Copyright 1995 The Atlanta Constitution  
The Atlanta Journal and Constitution

March 29, 1995, Wednesday, ALL EDITIONS


LENGTH: 392 words

HEADLINE: Witness says he lied at mail Bomb trial



Against his attorney's advice, a Florida boatmaker Tuesday testified that he lied repeatedly as a government witness during the 1991 trial in which Walter Leroy Moody was convicted of mailing pipe bombs that killed a federal judge and a civil rights lawyer.

Ted Banks, of Titusville, Fla., said he was coerced and threatened by federal agents and prosecutors into making false statements during the trial.

But he admitted under cross examination Tuesday that he had lied for Moody on numerous occasions in other legal proceedings.

In 1991, Moody was convicted of mailing the pipe bombs that killed Judge Robert Vance of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Savannah lawyer Robert Robinson in December 1989.

Banks' testimony consumed a bizarre day of legal maneuvering that began with Moody's request that the hearing on his motion for a new trial be postponed. He said he is devoting all of his time to representing himself in Alabama where he faces a death penalty trial for Vance's slaying.

But U.S. District Judge Thomas Flannery of Washington, D.C., who is hearing the case because all Southern judges have recused themselves, denied Moody's request.

When instructed to proceed, Moody said "I don't propose to do anything."

Flannery then called on Banks as a "court's witness," saying his testimony was needed "in the interest of justice."

Banks, 68, a convicted counterfeiter and admitted con man, walked into court holding a rumpled red cap and wearing a faded shirt that would not stay tucked into his blue jeans.

In 1991, Banks testified that he welded three six-inch pipes for Moody, that he had a friend buy some gunpowder for Moody and that he suspected the pipes were for bombs.

But Banks testified Tuesday that none of this was true. "Anything pertaining to the pipes I made Roy and the bombs. . . . I never talked to him about it," Banks said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Malcolm noted that part of Banks' plea agreement called for him to testify truthfully, and Flannery noted that Banks's new disclosures are tantamount to an admission of perjury.

Banks' court-appointed lawyer, John Goger, repeatedly asked Flannery to cut off Banks's testimony, but to no avail. "This is one of the worst days of my life," he said while walking out of the courtroom. "This is not what I wanted to see happen."