- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 19, 2003

When he was first approached by literary agents and “movie people” shortly after the hunt for a suspect in the Washington-area sniper attacks ended, Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose turned the offers aside.

But as the agents kept coming, Chief Moose started to listen.

“I’ve got something substantial, I’ve got something that’s real,” Chief Moose said, according to the transcript of a closed-door March ethics hearing on whether he could write an insider book on his role heading the massive investigation.

The commission barred him from writing the book, and this week, Chief Moose resigned because of the ongoing dispute. For Chief Moose, the decision partly rested on a strong belief that he has a story the world needs to hear.

“It is a story he wants to tell. A lot of that is driving him,” Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan said yesterday.

Chief Moose also is cashing in on the deal. His contract with publisher E.P. Dutton for “Three Weeks in October” is worth about $170,000, and he already has collected about $4,250 for the movie rights to his story.

He also is scheduled to speak June 29 for a reported $20,000 at a conference in San Francisco of the Building and Office Managers Association International, a day after his resignation takes effect.

Chief Moose, who has appealed the ethics ruling and filed a federal lawsuit claiming his First Amendment rights were violated, has said little about the case.

Chief Moose’s attorney, Ronald Karp, did not return phone calls from the Associated Press. Chief Moose is serving in the National Guard and was unavailable for comment.

The chief was reluctantly vaulted into fame as he led the investigation of the Washington-area sniper attacks. His daily briefings were carried on national television, including one where he shed a tear after the shooting of a 13-year-old boy.

He was one of Time magazine’s “People Who Mattered” for 2002, was the subject of endless profiles and interviews, and had an Internet fan club formed in his honor.

In his testimony before the ethics commission, Chief Moose said that fame had made his life “bizarre,” with people approaching him in restaurants and on a trip to Hawaii.

“The situation itself has caused, certainly a lot of people to be interested in me, but that is not something that I sought, that is not something that I desired, but that is now part of my reality,” he said.

The attention apparently convinced him he had a story to tell — and fight for, once the county ethics commission ruled he couldn’t profit from his job. In announcing his appeal of the decision, Chief Moose’s wife compared her husband to Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, saying he was fighting for his principles.

Chief Moose said writing a book was a “once in a lifetime opportunity,” according to his testimony. He chose an agent and was paired with former Newsweek reporter Charles Fleming, who will help him write the book.

He also was swayed by competition, noting in his testimony that reporters from The Washington Post and U.S. News & World Report were working on sniper books. He said a book should be written by someone in law enforcement.

The commission later ruled that Chief Moose couldn’t write the book or reveal confidential information, leading him to conclude that he had to quit to finish his book, Mr. Duncan said.

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