Before pleading guilty in what authorities called the biggest personal tax evasion case in U.S. history, telecommunications executive Walter C. Anderson found himself in solitary confinement in a part of the D.C. Jail that inmates call “the hole.”
Once in control of companies worth hundreds of millions of dollars, Anderson was housed in a windowless cell near inmates accused of some of the most violent crimes in the District. Among them was Percy Jordan, one of two men arrested in the January 2006 beating death in Washington of New York Times journalist David Rosenbaum.
What Anderson heard Jordan say, and what he did with the information, is among the main focal points of a 32-page petition sent earlier this month to the Justice Department seeking a commutation of Anderson’s sentence.
The application includes previously undisclosed information about Anderson’s cooperation in the Rosenbaum case, one of the city’s highest profile crimes in years. The Washington Times obtained a copy of the application from Thomas A. Olson, a supporter of Anderson’s who helped prepare the petition.
Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeney said officials have received the application and that it’s being processed, but she declined to comment further.
Anderson, now serving a nine-year sentence in a federal prison, talked several times with detectives investigating the Rosenbaum case. He also gave secret testimony before a federal grand jury about incriminating statements he said he overheard from Jordan.
“In these conversations, Jordan expressed no remorse whatsoever for the death of Mr. Rosenbaum,” states Anderson’s application, which goes on to question whether Anderson should have received a break at sentencing for his help in the case.
The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment. While prosecutors in the tax case questioned Anderson’s motivations for providing information, an assistant U.S. attorney who handled the Rosenbaum case called Anderson’s information credible, according to transcripts and court records obtained by The Times.
At a March 20, 2007, hearing in Anderson’s tax case, which was closed to the public, the homicide prosecutor said she ultimately decided to have Anderson testify before a grand jury, according to transcripts.
“I can tell you that I did credit his information. I thought it was highly corroborated,” assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Haines told U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman during the hearing. “We tracked down the jail records and saw where he was housed. And he was very clear … that he was seeking nothing, but that he was morally outraged and very concerned about what Mr. Jordan might do if he got back out on the street.”
When he first talked about the Rosenbaum case, Anderson also “made it clear that he did not trust the government and had no desire to be our jailhouse informant, but that he was very, very upset and morally outraged about the Rosenbaum murder,” Miss Haines said in her testimony.
A committee within the U.S. attorney’s office that votes on whether to recommend sentencing reductions, often based on a defendant’s cooperation, decided against doing so for Anderson, according to court records.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Durham testified in a closed hearing before Judge Friedman that Anderson’s cooperation “did not rise to the level of substantial assistance under the U.S. sentencing guidelines.”
“Mr. Anderson at the end of the day was treated fairly,” Mr. Durham said.