- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 28, 2002

RICHMOND (AP) Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney David M. Hicks has asked federal authorities to take over the investigation into eavesdropping by Republicans.
The request has been forwarded to Paul McNulty, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported yesterday.
There was no indication whether the federal official would assume control of the politically sensitive case.
A source close to Mr. Hicks said, "The case has gotten a lot bigger than when it started. It is potentially a crime more suited for federal authorities."
Another source said Mr. Hicks, facing a shortage of staff, has encountered logistical problems. There are 50 potential witnesses Democratic legislators who participated in two conference calls that were eavesdropped on. The Richmond prosecutor's office does not have the resources to question the witnesses, the source said.
Mr. Hicks' office has been conducting the investigation with the Virginia State Police.
So far, the former executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia, Edmund A. Matricardi III, has been indicted by a Richmond grand jury on four felony counts related to eavesdropping. He has since resigned his party post.
He has been accused of listening to and recording the two Democratic conference calls.
The cell phone number belonging to Claudia Duck Tucker, the chief of staff to House Speaker S. Vance Wilkins Jr., Amherst Republican, also showed up on a list of the phone numbers that called into the March 22 and March 25 conference calls. Miss Tucker has been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
Jeff Ryer, a former aide to House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith, Salem Republican, is said to have watched as someone listened in on the Democratic call.
Neither Miss Tucker nor Mr. Ryer has been charged. Both have hired lawyers.


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