- The Washington Times - Friday, July 7, 2006

A D.C. author who co-wrote W. Mark Felts’ 1979 memoir, in which the former top FBI official denied being the legendary Watergate source “Deep Throat,” says in a lawsuit that he was tricked into signing away his rights to the work.

Ralph de Toledano, in a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court here, states that Mr. Felt, his son and an attorney concealed their intention to disclose that Mr. Felt was indeed Deep Throat — first in Vanity Fair magazine, then in a revised book.

“My client feels he’s been taken advantage of,” Mr. de Toledano’s attorney, Theodore Allison, said yesterday.

Mr. de Toledano says in his suit that California attorney John D. O’Connor gave him a check for $5,000 for his interest in the memoir, “The FBI Pyramid: From the Inside,” a 351-page account of Mr. Felt’s career from a first-year agent in 1942 to associate director in 1971.

Mr. O’Connor ended the 30-year mystery of Deep Throat’s identity in a July 2005 story he wrote for Vanity Fair magazine, which got substantial advance publicity.

Mr. O’Connor later co-wrote, with Mr. Felt and his son, Mark Felt Jr., the new book about Mr. Felt’s FBI career, incorporating the Deep Throat material. Called “A G-Man’s Life: The FBI, Being ‘Deep Throat,’ and the Struggle for Honor in Washington,” it is languishing at No. 210,750 on the Amazon.com list and also available as an audiobook.

In the original book, Mr. Felt insisted he was not Deep Throat or any other source who leaked information about the Watergate scandal and cover-up that eventually toppled President Richard M. Nixon.

The Vanity Fair story confessing the truth increased the value of the book rights to a reported $1 million, Mr. de Toledano states in his suit.

Mr. de Toledano argues that he would not have relinquished his rights had he known Mr. Felt, now 92, was indeed Deep Throat.

Reporter and author Bob Woodward, who broke most of The Washington Post’s Watergate stories with partner Carl Bernstein, quickly acknowledged after the Vanity Fair article appeared that Mr. Felt was his longtime anonymous source.

Mr. O’Connor knew, the lawsuit states, that “there was little or no doubt that the story of ‘Washington’s most celebrated secret source’ would have considerable commercial value … in O’Connor’s word’s an ‘anticipated fortune’ from a tell-all book, film or television special.”

According to the lawsuit, Mark Felt Jr., a commercial airline pilot, said he wanted to buy out Mr. de Toledano’s interest in the original book “for the purpose of authoring an updated version of the book, to include some additional ‘background’ information to honor his father’s FBI career.”

“In truth … Felt Jr. knew that his father, Felt Sr., was about to disclose publicly that he was the source known as ‘Deep Throat,’ a fact which would materially increase the value of the copyright in ‘FBI Pyramid,’” the suit states.

Mr. de Toledano’s suit does not specify the damages he seeks. Neither Mr. O’Connor nor the Felts could be reached for comment yesterday.

Mr. Felt lives in Santa Rosa, Calif., with his daughter Joan, who was quoted in the Vanity Fair story as saying that the family “could at least make some money” by disclosing the identity of Deep Throat.

In 1978, Mr. Felt was indicted for and eventually convicted of approving, while an FBI official, the use of illegal wiretaps on the radical group known as the Weather Underground. President Reagan pardoned him while the case was under appeal in 1981.

Mr. Felt said he supplied Mr. Woodward with details about the FBI investigation into the cover-up of the politically motivated burglary June 17, 1972, at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate hotel.

Mr. Nixon resigned from office two years later.

“A G-Man’s Life,” most likely because of Mr. Felt’s age and health, focuses on his early career and FBI history and not his actions, thoughts and motives as Deep Throat, according to reviews.

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