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Casey Says He Shared Franklin Data With Caradori - July 26, 1990 - Omaha World-Herald

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Casey Says He Shared Franklin Data With Caradori; [Sunrise Edition]
Gabriella Stern. Omaha World - Herald. Omaha, Neb.: July 26, 1990. pg. 16

Full Text (1361 words)
(Copyright 1990 Omaha World-Herald Company)
The Franklin Case

Michael J. Casey, a key figure in what a grand jury this week called a "carefully crafted hoax" concerning child sexual abuse allegations against some Omahans, said Wednesday he and a legislative investigator shared information on the investigation.

Casey said he worked with the late Gary Caradori, a private investigator who worked for the Nebraska Legislature's special committee that is looking into allegations that arose from the investigation of the failed Franklin Community Federal Credit Union.

Casey, interviewed at the Douglas County Corrections Center, where he is being held on a bad-check charge, said he and Caradori shared information as they tried to find alleged victims of child sexual abuse in the fall of 1989.

Casey, 46, a former Boys Town employee who calls himself a free-lance journalist, co-wrote a lengthy article in early 1989 that appeared in the Village Voice newspaper describing the flamboyant lifestyle of Lawrence E. King Jr., Franklin's former top executive, and mentioning rumors of child sexual abuse.

'Sought Me Out'

"Gary Caradori sought me out. I was here living with Steve," Casey said, referring to Steve Brown, general manager of KKAR radio and host of a morning talk show that frequently has featured Franklin topics.

A Douglas County grand jury report issued Tuesday criticized Brown for helping Casey spread "unsubstantiated rumors and gossip." The grand jury also indicted three people, cleared a number of prominent Omahans and criticized Casey and others.

Casey said his first meeting with Caradori was Sept. 9, 1989.

Caradori, Casey, Brown and Karen Ormiston, then Caradori's assistant, "sat around, had coffee and discussed the case," Casey said. "Gary wanted to know whatever leads we had. I briefed him. There were many additional conversations on the phone and briefings after that. And we also went on stakeouts together."

"He (Caradori) had information, and I had information and I think we were both after each other's information. I don't think Caradori at all betrayed the confidence and the responsibility of his job," Casey said.

Brown Wednesday declined ''for now" to comment on his relationship with Casey. Brown also declined to explain a report Tuesday night on KMTV-Channel 3 that appeared to distance him from Casey.

'Reminiscing'

KMTV reported, "Brown says he broke off his association with Casey when he learned about the controversy surrounding him."

Casey said he considers Brown a friend. He said he and Brown spent a couple hours Sunday sitting in Carter Lake Park, "reminiscing about Franklin."

In court Tuesday, Casey listed Brown's address as his own. After arriving in Omaha Sunday, however, Casey stayed a night at a hotel near the airport.

"Steve Brown has been a friend to me, and he remains that as far as I know," Casey said.

One bit of information Casey said he gave Caradori was that Alisha Owen, 21, of Omaha claimed to have been sexually abused as a minor and knew of other young people who also said they had been abused. The grand jury indicted Miss Owen Tuesday on eight counts of perjury.

"I told him (Caradori) about Alisha, where she was at, that she claimed she was abused and was very familiar with street life in Omaha," Casey said.Psychiatric Ward

According to Casey and the grand jury report, he met Miss Owen in the fall of 1989 after checking himself into the psychiatric ward of a local hospital where she was a patient.

Casey said that after being released from the hospital, Miss Owen spent one night at the home of Dick Mueller, artistic director of the Firehouse Theater and a friend of Casey, without Mueller's knowledge.

Casey said he and a California movie producer, Gordon Rowe, met with Caradori in Lincoln in the fall of 1989 to discuss the possibility of a television movie about Franklin. Rowe wanted Caradori to be a paid consultant on the movie.

Caradori said he might work with Rowe, but only after his job with the legislative committee was over, Casey said.

The grand jury report said allegations about Harold Andersen and Boys Town may stem from "Casey's personal grudges."

He had a long-time battle with Boys Town, which fired him in the early '70s, and with The Omaha World-Herald. Casey said he has long felt the newspaper misreported his relationship with Boys Town.

Wrongly Rumored

Casey noted that he was among the first to say publicly that Andersen, the retired World-Herald publisher, was being wrongly rumored to be connected with child sexual abuse.

Casey made the comment in an interview that was reported in a World-Herald article earlier this year.

"I was the first one to say I never found anything concerning children involving Harold Andersen," Casey said. "I have no vendetta against Andersen. I have disagreements with the paper in regard to coverage of Boys Town."

Casey said rumors that youths from Boys Town had been abused did not originate with him. Julie Walters, former assistant community director at Boys Town, alerted authorities about possible abuse before Casey began investigating, he said.

He said he accompanied Caradori to interview the Rev. Val Peter, director of Boys Town, in the fall of 1989. Peter was seen earlier this summer leaving the Douglas County grand jury room.

Federal Grand Jury

Mueller said he answered repeated questions about Casey when he appeared Wednesday before a federal grand jury in Omaha.

"Most of the questions had to do with Mike," Mueller said.

Earlier this year, Mueller appeared before the county grand jury, which this week issued indictments and a report critical of Casey and others.

Mueller said that in both instances jurors called him in to discuss his friendship with Casey.

The federal grand jury for nearly 18 months has been investigating matters relating to the Franklin Credit Union, which failed in 1988. Mueller said he has known Casey for about 20 years. Casey lived for a time in Mueller's home and helped around the theater to return the favor.

"One of the (federal) jurors asked me if I still consider Mike Casey a friend," said Mueller, 53. "I said, 'Yeah, I still consider him a friend.' And the juror said, 'Then you're a better person than I am.' "

Mueller said he was surprised that the county grand jury characterized Casey as capable of "duping" Caradori.Sought Information

The jury's report said: "We believe that Caradori was duped into working with Casey, who took advantage of Caradori's background information."

Mueller said Casey "kept the Franklin story going" but did not dupe people he dealt with - investigators, reporters and politicians - because those people knew he was after information and they themselves wanted information from him.

"I think everybody wanted information and everybody was using everybody," Mueller said.

Casey, the father of three children in California, has spent part of this week in the Douglas County Corrections Center. Police officers arrested him Monday after he emerged from the federal grand jury, which had subpoenaed him to testify.

Officers arrested him on a warrant from South Dakota for allegedly writing a bad check. He was also arrested for failing to appear at a hearing in Omaha on a shoplifting charge. He is being held on $101,500 bail and is fighting extradition to South Dakota.

'Scapegoat'

In an interview Wednesday in the jail, Casey said he has become a "scapegoat."

"I have become more important to the grand jury than the charges and allegations they were supposed to investigate," he said.

Casey said it was curious that the grand jury condemned him in its report because the jury's special prosecutor, Samuel Van Pelt, at one time asked him to do research for the jury.

"Van Pelt requested that I do some research within the first two weeks of the jury - a complete background clip file on King and Franklin," Casey said.

The sex abuse allegations being investigated by the grand juries and the legislative committee grew out of the investigation into the credit union's failure.

Van Pelt could not be reached Wednesday for comment on Casey's assertion.

It is also curious, Casey said, that he never received a subpoena from the county grand jury and yet the jury criticized him in its final report.

Casey Caradori

Credit: World-Herald Staff Writer

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