Court Motion Says:

'No Evidence Behind Keenan Verdict'

by Steve Miller

Gardnerville nursery owner Jerry Keenan, convicted by a federal jury early this month of lying to federal agents looking into an attempted IRS bombing in Reno last year, has asked a federal judge to overturn the verdict. [original story]
No testimony given during the trial provided any support for the verdict, argued Keenan attorney Ben Walker in a motion filed Thursday in U.S. District Court.
The agents, from the FBI and BATF, had visited Keenan's home shortly before midnight on Dec. 19, two days after an attempted bombing of Reno's Internal Revenue Service building. Eventually arrested and charged with the bombing was Joseph Bailie, of Gardnerville-Minden.
Keenan, never a suspect in the bomb attempt, was initially charged by the U.S. Attorney's office with eight instances of lying -- three to federal agents and five to a federal grand jury. Before the case went to the jury, however, federal Judge Howard McKibben dismissed four of the allegations, finding that the government had produced no supporting evidence. The jury then considered the remaining charges -- two of lying to the agents and two of lying to the grand jury.
Jurors acquitted the Gardnerville businessman of lying to the federal grand jury, but found him guilty of the indictment's first count, which comprised the two lying-to-agents charges. Deducing which charge it was from the similarity of the other to a grand jury charge for which Keenan was found not guilty, defense counsel Walker said jurors must have decided Keenan's statement that Bailie had only visited the nursery once, some months before the bombing attempt, was false.
However, argued Walker in his motion, the name 'Joe Bailie'
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never was used by the federal agents interviewing Keenan at his home late that night. At that time neither the agents nor Keenan knew that last name, which was not learned by agents until the next day, when Bailie's employer was contacted, FBI agent William Jonkey acknowledged in trial testimony.
During the agents' midnight interview at the Keenan household, they asked the nurseryman about a "Joe Grosso - Crazy Joe" character. Keenan told them what he knew of a "Joe Grosso," though it later became apparent that the FBI's "Joe Grosso" lead was of no value.
Keenan also told the agents the part of Douglas Couny where he believed a character called "Crazy Joe" lived -- information later proved correct -- and told them they could get more information on the individual if they came the next morning to his nursery, to meet a coffee-drinking friend who was Crazy Joe's employer. That also proved to be correct, and helpful to the agents.
But Keenan, a 53-year-old diabetic who had been awakened in the middle of his night, told the agents that he believed the "Crazy Joe" they were talking about had been to his nursey only once, some months back.
When investigators later developed evidence that Joseph Bailie had visited the Green Valley Garden Center at least three times over the previous year, one time of which reportedly had been a day or two before the bomb attempt, federal prosecutors got a federal grand jury to return a lying charge on that point in the eventual federal indictment.

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