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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview With Cyril Wecht; Interview With Michael Hostilo
Aired February 6, 2006 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, exclusive -- he's worked on major cases like the deaths of President John F. Kennedy, Elvis Presley and Jon Benet Ramsey. But now one of America's highest-profile forensic experts Dr. Cyril Wecht faces criminal charges himself. And he's here to address the 84 counts against him for the first time.
And then another exclusive. The first interview with the lawyer held hostage for 24 hours last month by a former angry client, a convicted felon who claimed to have a bomb. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening. Last month, a federal grand jury in Pennsylvania returned an 84-count indictment against Dr. Cyril Wecht, charging him with misusing his public office for private gain. The charges list, quote, "theft of honest services, mail fraud, wire fraud, theft from an entity receiving federal funds."
In the past Dr. Wecht has been a frequent guest on this show and he's worked on major cases including President Kennedy's assassination and the Jon Benet Ramsey case. He is joined in Washington, D.C. by Dick Thornburgh, the former United States attorney general, former governor of Pennsylvania, and a frequent guest on this show as well.
Dr. Wecht, did you know this was coming down?
DR. CYRIL WECHT, FACES CRIMINAL CHARGES: Well, yes, in a way, Larry, although rumors back and forth over the months that preceded it. So one always had some hope. But I guess I would have to say that I more or less expected it to occur.
KING: Was there a grand jury? Had you testified before a grand jury so you had some knowledge that this possibly is coming?
WECHT: No. I had never been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury.
KING: Had you been questioned by authorities?
WECHT: No. Never spoke with anybody about this except my own attorneys.
KING: How did you know something was in the air, then?
WECHT: Oh, it's been talked about. It's been written about in the Pittsburgh newspapers. And of course, my attorneys knew things too. They did have some meetings and some phone conversations over the months. So none of this was a great surprise.
KING: Dick Thornburgh, they talked to you?
DICK THORNBURGH, ATTORNEY: Yes, Larry. It's my sad responsibility to represent Dr. Wecht against what I think are unjustified charges.
We conducted our own parallel investigation into the allegations that finally appeared in the indictment. And I think it's important to recognize that the background of this is that Dr. Wecht has served as the elected coroner in Pittsburgh for many, many years.
And he has, like most coroners and medical examiners, a variety of outside interests. And the real heart of the indictment is a claim that he mixed up funds between his public and private responsibilities.
Our thesis is and our defense will largely be that this is not a subject for federal criminal charges, that it really should be dealt with on a civil basis after due accounting has been made.
KING: Dr. Wecht, in your heart, do you think you did anything wrong?
WECHT: No, Larry. I did not. I'm very proud of the record that we compiled in the Allegheny County coroner's office, which has achieved truly an international reputation.
We've been sought after by many entities and I've been consulted by several foreign governments and have done autopsies in other countries and testified there.
I've had the pleasure and distinguished honor of serving as an officer and president of some of the major professional organizations. I can tell you and all of your viewers that I've never done anything in that office that would be considered in any sense, politically corrupt or criminal. I have always strived to do the best job possible to make the Allegheny County coroner's office a top-notch medical legal investigative facility.
KING: The U.S. attorney says that from 1997-to-2004, you grossed almost $9 million from private consulting and autopsy business. Is that something that to you is illegal? Is that true, and if true, is it illegal?
WECHT: I don't know the numbers. I guess with four kids, 11 grandchildren, and all kinds of employees, I never appreciated how much money I grossed.
But the answer is, no, there's nothing illegal. There is no federal, state, or local law which prohibits me from doing this kind of work. I had done this when I was coroner back in '70s, 10 years. And my successors did it before I came back again in '96 and the foremost medical-legal friends and pathologists, many of whom you had on your programs, Larry, countless times, engage in this same kind of work as the defense experts in murder cases and other kinds of similar litigation.
KING: So like Dr. Henry Lee and others, you're called on to testify and you're paid?
WECHT: Yes, exactly.
KING: In fact, Mark Geragos will be on in the next segment, has used you, has he not?
WECHT: Yes, I worked with Mark Geragos in the Laci Peterson case. Dr. Henry Lee and I from the very beginning. And I did repeat autopsies on Laci Peterson and Conner Peterson at Mark Geragos's request.
KING: This sounds serious. The United States attorney, I want Dick Thornburgh to comment too, says you used county employees to fill various roles for a private company, Wecht Pathology, including office manager, scheduling secretary, research assistant and courier. The U.S. Attorney Buchanan says essentially these employees were paid by the county to perform private work for you.
THORNBURGH: I don't think there's any question that there's some accounting irregularities here and probably some inappropriate use of county employees, because Dr. Wecht is, as he said, he's a man of many parts.
He has his own private medical practice. He is affiliated with a number of universities. He established an institute of law and forensic science. And I'm not prepared to say that every nickel and dime was accounted for 100 percent accurately.
But the point is, is this a federal criminal case? When I was a prosecutor, Larry, as you know, I prosecuted a lot of truly corrupt public officials for taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash payments from racketeers or extorting private business interests or embezzling public funds.
This is nothing like that, this is a matter of proper accounting and can be solved by having an independent audit made of the finances of the office and of Dr. Wecht. And he's more than eager to pay back anything that that audit indicates might have been improper.
KING: All right, Dr. Wecht, one accusation that really seems kind of kooky in a sense, the allegation that you unlawfully traded bodies with known next of kin to a local college, alleged that you traded numerous bodies in exchange for the right to use lab space at the college for private autopsy business. The college is not a defendant.
WECHT: Yes, Larry. Carlow University, we have established a truly unique program. Unique in all the world. And the students just love it. In fact, at an open house, less than two weeks ago, of 121 students there who are coming into Carlow for the biology program, 93 say that they want to be in the autopsy program.
There was never any such trade. And this is such a spurious, insulting allegation, because this is a major Catholic university. I established this contact with Sister Grace Ann Geibel, then president.
And we were there from February '03, in fact, to September '04 -- nineteen months and no bodies ever came out. Rent was never even discussed.
This insult, it hurts me and pains me so greatly. We don't need those bodies but the bodies were unidentified bodies from the coroner's office that were going out to be embalmed at the mortuary school. And so some of them, in fact I think 12, over a 16-month period then, were dissected by the students.
It's part of an educational program, similar to what happens in medical schools and other institutions around the world. So we're very proud of that program. And this is one of the allegations, when the facts and the truth come out, I think they're going to be a lot of red faces.
KING: Dick Thornburgh, do you think somebody was after your client?
THORNBURGH: That puzzles me, Larry. I have a lot of difficulty figuring out what the basis for these charges is. As I said, I think this ought to be a civil proceeding to resolve any of the accounting problems that are involved.
Some have suggested that Cyril Wecht is a big target. He was prosecuted on similar charges about 25 years ago and they collapsed. He was exonerated on all counts. But as you and I both know, Cyril is a bit larger than life. He's a colorful public figure. And it's entirely possible that he may have been targeted for that reason.
KING: We'll take a break. And when we come back, we'll be joined by a former federal prosecutor herself, Mary Fulginiti and Mark Geragos, the high-profile defense attorney. Get their thoughts on this puzzling case, don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARY BETH BUCHANAN, U.S. ATTORNEY: The allegations in the indictment involve Cyril Wecht's use of Allegheny County resources for his private and personal gain, and Wecht's scheme to defraud his private clients.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUCHANAN: He used the fact that he was the Allegheny County coroner in order to generate private business for his private enterprise. Then in order to do that work, he utilized the resources, the employees, of Allegheny County who were paid for by the citizens of Allegheny county, who were supposed to be doing work to benefit Allegheny county. Not to benefit Cyril Wecht personally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Before we bring Mark and Mary in, do you want to comment on that statement, Dr. Wecht?
WECHT: Well, yes. I'll just say that I have not gotten any business consultations because I've been coroner. You could ask Mark Geragos, Jerry Spence, or F. Lee Bailey or anybody whether they contacted me because I was a coroner.
In fact, I've lost business because I was the coroner.
KING: The use of employees for personal gain?
WECHT: No. The secretary I paid for on a full-time basis and I've had three private secretaries and a private office. Something which by the way probably no other forensic pathologists functioning as a coroner or medical examiner in the United States of America has ever had.
I've had that from day one, three secretaries and my own private office.
KING: Dick Thornburgh, do you want to comment?
THORNBURGH: As I said earlier, there's undoubtedly some intermixing of these expenditures and some reimbursement necessary. But I again question whether that rises to the level of a serious federal criminal charges. That's really not appropriate, in my view.
KING: Let's welcome Mary Fulginiti, the former federal prosecutor, now a prominent defense attorney on her own, and Mark Geragos, the high profile defense attorney, among his many famous clients, Scott Peterson and Dr. Wecht has already mentioned was a consultant for the defense in that case. Mary, what do you make of this? And I know you read the indictment.
MARY FULGINITI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes, I did. It's a lengthy indictment. It's 40 pages long, very detail oriented. And it's very thorough. And I think if anyone had any suspicions or accusations as to what was being charged here, you don't need to suspect or speculate. It's all included in the indictment.
KING: It's not bad to have a former U.S. attorney general on your side though.
FULGINITI: No, it never is bad to have one of those. Just to comment quickly on Mr. Thornburgh's comment on it being probably more appropriate for an audit as opposed to a criminal investigation, the bottom line is, there are many individuals that are audited for IRS tax purposes but that are also criminally prosecuted for tax evasion and other tax related crimes.
So they're not mutually exclusive here. And clearly --
MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: But where do you think you get that expression, don't make a federal case out of it? FULGINITI: This is a 40-page indictment that has many, many, many allegations of misuse of personal -- but misuse actually of the coroner's office's funds.
KING: Let Mr. Thornburgh respond and Mr. Geragos will go and then Cyril again.
THORNBURGH: Let me make two points. One, I'm always taken by the fact that news accounts refer to an 84-count indictment, which sounds ominous to the maximum degree; 79 of those counts, as my fellow former prosecutors will recognize, relate to single mailings or faxes that were allegedly undertaken in pursuit of a scheme to defraud.
So when you're really talking about the heart of the case, it's a five-count indictment. Not an 84-count indictment. And I don't question the authority of the U.S. attorney to seek this indictment. I question whether this is the highest and best use of federal criminal investigative and prosecutive resources, and I suggest that it isn't.
GERAGOS: Well, look. Dr. Wecht I think is correct when he says nobody's calling him up because he's the Allegheny County Coroner. That's not why I called. It's certainly not why any lawyer that I know calls him up.
The people call up Dr. Wecht because he's one of the foremost pathologists in the world and has been for a number of years. As he says, he's been president of the professional organizations, he's thought of by anybody that you talk to as one of the leading, if not the leading, authority in various areas. And it breaks my heart to see him have to go through this. It really does.
You know, part of the problem with this to some degree is, and I don't know -- I haven't talked to Cyril since he's been indicted. I know he's been deluged with people wishing him well. My experience has always been when these particular counties or states in some places get somebody of Cyril's stature there, that they allow them to do all kinds of side work because that's the only way you can get somebody like a Cyril Wecht to actually be there and do that kind of a job. Because clearly, Cyril can make 95 times as much money doing the outside private consulting work as he can working for the county.
FULGINITI: I agree but he's not charged with having his own private consulting business, he's charged here with using the resources of the county for his own private and financial gain. That's what he's charged with.
GERAGOS: You heard the film clip, saw the film clip, was that he's using Allegheny County as kind of the spring board for this. I don't think -- and that's why Cyril was kind of chuckling and I was chuckling to myself, too. Nobody's calling up Cyril because he's the Allegheny County coroner. That's ludicrous.
FULGINITI: That's minimizing what he's being charged with. He's a public official.
KING: Dr. Wecht, what's it done to you emotionally?
WECHT: Well, it's been very draining, Larry. I continue to function. Some people have shied away. Many others continue to consult with me. I continue to do the autopsies for five surrounding counties and testify then in all of the homicide cases which ensue from those autopsies.
I receive invitations just this past week for speaking engagements in other states and so on. But the emotional drain, the trauma to my family, my children a few of the 11 grandchildren who are older now and so on. The impact is as great. And financially, I never -- I never realized what lawyers can charge.
KING: Do you still have a private company?
WECHT: Yes. Cyril H. Wecht Pathology Associates. We do all of these cases, consultations. That's the corporate name for my private work.
KING: Dick, why are you so expensive?
THORNBURGH: This is a friend of long standing. It's interesting, a lot of people say to me, Dick, you're a Republican, Cyril Wecht's a Democrat, how do you get together in this alliance? I said, I'm interested in fairness and due process, and I don't think that Cyril's getting either here.
You know, there's one embarrass embarrassing missing element in this indictment. And that nowhere in the indictment is it alleged whether and to what extent Dr. Wecht is alleged to have lined his own pockets through this activity. There's a lot of recitation about how much money he's made in his private practice.
There's a lot of recitation about mails and faxes that have been sent, but no indication whatsoever as to what the alleged loss was to Allegheny County and to the coroner's office.
KING: I've got to take a break. As we go to break, more from the prosecutor. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUCHANAN: What the indictment does allege is that in violation of law, Cyril Wecht traded the bodies of individuals who didn't have a readily identifiable next of kin. And Cyril Wecht traded these bodies in exchange for the ability to use laboratory space at a local college.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUCHANAN: What the law requires in Pennsylvania is that an autopsy is only necessary if it has to be done to determine the actual cause of death. And in this case, Cyril Wecht allowed the bodies to be used by the school for -- for practice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now, was that illegal, Dr. Wecht? Or were they unidentified bodies and therefore legal?
WECHT: It's quite legal. Larry, as I told you, bodies have been going to the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science for embalming and limited dissection purposes for 30 some years or more that I know of. There is nothing illegal about it. And to make this kind of an allegation against the Carlow University -- obviously, Larry, I could not have entered into such an immoral, unethical, illegal conspiratorial plan without somebody sitting across the table from me. And I'm still trying to find out who that individual was.
It never, never happened. There was not one mention ever of the word "rent." And as I told you, for 19 months, we were there without a body. And we'll continue this program too.
KING: Mary, what do you think he did wrong?
FULGINITI: Well, I don't know personally what he did or didn't do. But what's alleged in the indictment is that he utilized a variety of the resources and the personal services, as well as the employees of the Allegheny County coroner's offices for his own private business.
And that's the problem here. I mean, he's actually fortunate enough to be able to probably maintain a private business. But the bottom line is, is he's a public official. He's subjected to greater scrutiny, responsibilities and accountability because of that. And he's got to keep those businesses very separate.
And if you're a public official, think about it. The public is paying for his -- his -- out of their taxpayer dollars -- for his salary. They're paying for his services. And they want those services to be kept in the public sphere, not for his own private gain.
KING: Dick, you're saying that while some of this may be true, they could have moved civilly against him?
THORNBURGH: I think Dr. Wecht went to great lengths to keep his private interests separate from his public responsibilities. But I'm not about to say that he succeeded 100 percent.
What I'm saying is that bringing these draconian federal criminal charges to solve that kind of a bookkeeping and accounting problem is overkill. And I think the fact that a lot of these more colorful charges are included, which have very little relationship to the heart of the indictment, indicates that the prosecutors recognize that they don't have that much of a case. KING: Are you saying if you were attorney general, you never would have brought this?
THORNBURGH: I told the U.S. attorney and I told the deputy attorney general of the United States that they were making a big mistake in pursuing this criminally. It could have been pursued civilly. It could have been pursued under Pennsylvania ethics laws, where a number of these kinds of cases, where there's an admixture between public and private work have been decided. But the notion of using criminal charges and putting Dr. Wecht through the ordeal of having his family, friends and associates brought before a federal grand jury is really not the highest and best use of the resources we have in the criminal justice system.
KING: Mary's been shaking her head no, which she would never have done it if she were the federal prosecutor with the attorney general on this show. Trust me. Mark, the U.S. attorney has a lot of power, a lot of discretionary power, right?
GERAGOS: Oh, the U.S. attorney's office...
KING: He or she can go...
KING: Civil, not?
GERAGOS: It's one of the greatest jobs in the world as a lawyer, is to be a U.S. attorney for some particular district. Because you really do hold people's hands -- or their fate in your hands.
KING: You can brand them with doing criminal...
GERAGOS: You can do anything you want. I mean, that's basically the job of the U.S. attorney. I quoted before on this show one of the federal district judges here, who once said, "being a U.S. attorney means never having to say you're sorry." I mean, this job is a great job if you're a lawyer.
That having been said, if you know the difference between somebody getting indicted and not getting indicted rests with their discretion. I mean, it really does. The grand jury certainly is not exercising any kind of discretion.
KING: Why were you shaking your head at Mr. Thornburgh?
FULGINITI: Well, because I think, you know, every criminal defense attorney would love to be able to say, yes, my client -- especially in the fraud-related areas -- likes to be able to say, oh, they shouldn't be prosecuted, it's really a waste of resources, etcetera. But the reality of it is they are no different and they are not above the law.
Dr. Wecht is not above the law, just like half of your clients aren't above the law. So therefore, you know, you can't make the distinction because it's Dr. Wecht and he's a public official that he's being...
GERAGOS: Well, I don't think -- I don't think the attorney general is making that argument. I think what the argument is, is look, if this is something that there are ethics guidelines in Pennsylvania that govern it, if this is something that traditionally has been a civil remedy, where you get sued civilly for accounting irregularities, why do you -- I mean, how do you justify if in eight other cases that are similar, they went civilly, and in this case they went criminally? It's what I always say to prosecutors, God save me from the equal justice, or just treating my client like anybody else, because he's not getting treated like everybody else.
KING: Cyril, if you had to do it all over, what would you do differently?
WECHT: Well, there are a few things I could do differently, Larry, of course, as I look at this thing retrospectively. But I can honestly state that I have paid people -- the idea that I used employees -- I didn't use the employees. When I go to do an autopsy, I do it elsewhere. I have an autopsy technician, I have a secretary, I have my own private office. You know, I've always paid for these things. I have been quite scrupulous about this.
Some accounting things, as the governor has referred to, certainly could be done differently. A fax here or there. You know, I don't even know how to send a fax.
You know, there's little things I can say, boy, I would have checked on this, I would have...
GERAGOS: I can attest to that. He can't operate a fax machine.
KING: Let me get a break and we'll be back with some more moments, and then we'll meet Michael Hostilo, the attorney who was held hostage by one of his former clients. Boy, I bet a lot would have liked to have done that.
We'll be right back, don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's a celebrity consultant of sorts, coroner who consulted in the death of Elvis Presley. Other high-profile cases include Laci Peterson and Jon Benet Ramsey.
In recent months Dr. Cyril Wecht worked on examining bodies following Hurricane Katrina. He made a name for himself when he questioned the lone gunman theory in the JFK assassination.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Dr. Wecht. Why did you run for this office? You didn't need it. WECHT: No, Larry, or the $64,000 salary that I've gotten in recent years. I ran way back in 1969. We were campaigning to change the office over from the anachronism that it was at the time. And I left the office then in '80.
KING: Why run again?
WECHT: Well, a couple of pathologists came to me. The incumbent coroner had gone south to take a medical examiner's job. When I first came, I laughed and I said, "What, are you crazy?" And turns out that I was the crazy one to have accepted.
KING: Mary agrees.
FULGINITI: I agree.
KING: You're also accused of defrauding private clients, overbilling them, overcharging for airfare, charging $90 airport limousine charge when you actually went in a county-owned vehicle. How do you respond?
WECHT: Those will all be addressed, I can assure you. There are a good solid explanation for each one of those allegations.
KING: Dick, do you expect a trial or some sort of deal here?
THORNBURGH: I expect a trial. And I expect that the first thing that we want to point out in that trial is that under Pennsylvania law, there is no prohibition against Dr. Wecht having these outside interests.
And as we said earlier and as the record will indicate, every high-profile forensic pathologist or coroner or medical examiner follows the same kind of practices that Dr. Wecht does. The accounting problems should be worked out by the accountants and Dr. Wecht will pay up in a New York minute. But to put this on the scale of a criminal prosecution, I think is a bad mistake.
KING: Mark, what does this do to his reputation, win or lose?
GERAGOS: Well, I think that there's always going to be people, like any criminal case, if you bring an indictment it tarnishes you in the minds of a lot of people. To those who know Cyril, I don't think that it's going to have any effect, except to maybe inflame them over the case and over the fact that it was brought. But there are always those who assume and don't understand how discretionary something like a grand jury indictment is.
KING: Is it tough for a prosecutor, Mary, to bring a trial, let's say bring a case against someone who is a fairly popular individual?
FULGINITI: You know, it is tough. If anything, I think those cases, they devote a lot more time to scrutinizing and analyzing before going forward because they know they're going to be subject to high profile aspect of the case and obviously with very zealous defense advocates.
So they spend I think more time if anything in making sure that they cross their T's and dot their I's. But it doesn't mean that you don't bring them. I mean, even -- look, we've seen it before in Martha Stewart, even the Libby case recently, where people were criticizing the government for bringing the charges when it wasn't even focusing on the underlying crimes -- because they're really focusing on some abuses during the investigation. But the bottom line is, if you violate the law, you will be held criminally responsible, period.
KING: Dick, do you have a trial date?
THORNBURGH: No. Arraignment occurs later this week. And then we'll begin the process of preparing a defense for Dr. Wecht that I think will carry the day.
KING: When do you think it might begin?
THORNBURGH: Hard to say. There are a lot of pretrial matters that have to be dealt with generally in these kinds of cases. We have some irregularities in the investigation that we want to have brought to the court's attention. It will be awhile, I suspect. We're anxious to go to trial as quickly as possible. We don't want to sacrifice Dr. Wecht's rights.
KING: Cyril, would you say you're confident?
WECHT: Well, not in a cocky, complacent, arrogant way, Larry. I'm confident because I know I've done nothing that is criminally wrong. And I'm confident because I have excellent counsel in Dick Thornburgh and other counsel in Pittsburgh, one of whom is a former U.S. attorney for eight years under Ronald Reagan. His former assistant, now his partner, a brilliant young lady. Another former assistant U.S. attorney, who is a partner of Dick Thornburgh's at the office in Pittsburgh.
So I feel confident in that sense. In the meantime, it's very heavy, heavy, Larry and I deal with it by working as hard as I can and continuing to write and lecture and teach and do all my private work, including the coroner's autopsies for the adjacent counties. And that's all I can do to see this through.
I wish that the trial could be next week. But I understand that there are a lot of things that have to be dealt with and I am cognizant of a lot of those irregularities which will be pursued by my attorneys.
KING: We will follow it closely. Thank you, Dr. Cyril Wecht. Dick Thornburgh, always good to see you. And as Mark Geragos and Mary Fulginiti, who have become our regulars here, in fact, it's the Mark and Mary Show, I just work here.
When we come back, Michael Hostilo. Mr. Hostilo, the attorney from Statesboro, Georgia, recently held hostage for 24 hours by a former client. Don't go away. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: My next guest is criminal defense attorney who found himself on the defensive end of a hostage situation. For 24 hours, Michael Hostilo was allegedly held captive by the client he once defended for free. Mike, what happened?
MICHAEL HOSTILO, LAWYER HELD HOSTAGE BY EX-CLIENT: Well, Larry, I had represented him back in 1996 in Savannah, Georgia. I didn't actually represent him for free. I got paid a nominal fee, $300, $500.
KING: What was he charged with?
HOSTILO: Aggravated assault. When it came to trial, he was a recidivist, which meant in Georgia he had prior felony offenses. And based on that and based on the evidence against him, I felt that it was in his best interests to enter a guilty plea.
We entered a guilty plea. It wasn't favorable to him. He entered an open-ended guilty plea which is -- which means you go into the court, throw yourself on the mercy of the court. The judge has the discretion to sentence him for whatever term.
KING: What did he get?
HOSTILO: I believe five years, one year to serve, the balance on probation.
KING: Not bad.
HOSTILO: Based on the fact that he had four prior felonies, no.
KING: Then what happened? He went to prison?
HOSTILO: He went to prison for a year, then I didn't hear about him for several years. I got an e-mail approximately two or three years ago from authorities saying that they had the whereabouts of a gentleman going by the name of Robby who had threatened, not specifically me, but was threatening various officials, the prosecutor, the judge, as it related to that 1996 charge. They told me I didn't have anything to worry about. And then came January the 16th.
KING: On January the 16th, Martin Luther King Day, right?
HOSTILO: Yes, sir.
KING: You're in your office in Statesboro or Savannah?
KING: What happens?
HOSTILO: Originally -- I'd been on vacation the prior week with buddies playing golf. Came to the office. Wasn't originally going to work. Had high demand to meet some clients. Came into the office very casually dressed. If you've seen any of the photos jeans, golf shirt, jacket, loafers. Arrive approximately 10 to 9:00. See my first client, a gentleman by the name of Ken Carrington. Have a nice visit about his upcoming court.
Then Robby Brower storms into my office with my receptionist in one hand and something that appeared to look like a bomb in his other hand.
KING: His wife was with him too?
HOSTILO: She was shortly behind, yes.
KING: What did they want?
HOSTILO: He wanted justice. His exact words. He came and said, I'm Robby Brower, and you're here today to meet your maker. And then he proceed to make me get up against the wall, place my hands up in the air, and then he tied me up or taped me using that gray duct tape.
Taped me up, had me get on my knees, had the rest of my secretaries come back into the back office and the whole time I insisted, what do you want, what do you want, he kept on saying, I wanted justice, you ruined my life 11 years ago. Actually, it was 10 years ago. You ruined my life 11 years ago, he kept saying that over and over. And today I'm going to have justice, today I'm going to be heard.
KING: What did he do to the three secretaries?
HOSTILO: After some convincing on my part, he let them go. He let them out the back door. Within probably 15 to 20 minutes.
KING: Were they the ones that told the police?
HOSTILO: I assume so, yes.
KING: Don't you know? You must have talked to them later.
HOSTILO: I actually have not had a conversation with them as it relates to this incident, no.
KING: Why not? Is there going to be a trial?
KING: I see. He's going to be charged?
HOSTILO: I believe he's going to be charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault, and some other offenses. I later found out that he never completed his probation from the '96 charge. So he's in violation of that probation as well.
KING: More from Michael Hostilo in a minute. Incredible story. How long was he held? What eventually did the alleged culprit want? The world gets stranger and stranger. As no one knows better than Anderson Cooper. He stands by in New York to host "AC 360." What tonight, Anderson?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Speaking of strange, Larry, a medical advancement that is just extraordinary. Coming up on "360," the top of the hour, the face transplant recipient makes her first public appearance, speaking in front of the reporters, in front of the entire world.
Isabelle Dinoire talked today about what it is like to live with her new face. We'll bring you what she said and talk about the controversy the medical marvel has created. Would you donate your face? People donate their organs. The question is would people be willing to go even further?
A lot of people are asking that question. We'll talk to Sanjay Gupta about that, our medical ethicists. Also R. Kaplan and the latest on the case of Neil Entwistle and Rachel and Lillian, the unsolved murders and the husband who won't return to America.
KING: Thanks, Anderson. On top of the scene, "ANDERSON COOPER 360" at the top of the hour. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STAN YORK, POLICE CHIEF, STATESBORO, GA: Approximately 6:00 a.m., negotiations were successful in the surrender. During the surrender process, certain events took place which caused the incident to escalate, resulting in a tactical intervention. Two shots were fired. No one was injured. The hostage, Robby, and Connie Brower retreated to the original location. Negotiations have been reestablished and are ongoing in a positive manner at this time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The secretaries are gone, you and him and his wife, you're up against the wall with duct tape, he's holding apparently a bomb. What happens then?
HOSTILO: He drags me to the front of the office, to the lobby, and has another -- what appears to be some -- somewhat of a bomb displayed in front of me. He then is looking out the window to see if the authorities have arrived, which, from his reaction, I suspect they have.
KING: You have a store front office? Or it's in a building?
HOSTILO: It's like in an old -- if you know anything about old Southern towns, it's in a square. And it's -- the square surrounds the courthouse.
KING: The police eventually arrive? HOSTILO: Correct. I can hear him commenting on them. I'm tied up and looking at this device that appears to be a bomb in front of me. He then takes out of one of my secretaries offices, he takes a little black and white television, puts it on the local TV station to I guess see himself on TV.
Over the next, you know, four to five to six hours, we just kind of sit and he yells expletives at me and tells me how I ruined his life.
KING: What's his wife doing?
HOSTILO: She is sort of pacifying him.
KING: Are you scared?
HOSTILO: Oh, absolutely.
KING: Do you think it's a bomb?
HOSTILO: Don't know. I don't know.
KING: Did you try to escape?
HOSTILO: I did later, about 6:00 to 6:30 that evening, I had become quite frustrated with the proceedings and thought that, you know, there was no way I'm going to get out of here unless I try to escape.
He -- we ordered in food, ironically, and he didn't eat. He ordered food but he didn't -- he and his wife did not eat. I ate. And they kind of loosened the duct tape to allow me to eat. And then during the course of that next hour or so, I was able to dislodge the tape or loosen up the tape.
KING: And what did you do, run?
HOSTILO: I made a run for the back of my office.
KING: What did he do?
HOSTILO: He chased me, as well as his wife. I made it to the back of the office, locked my office door where he had originally entered my office with the secretaries. Kicked the door down. We got into a little brawl. Blows were exchanged. He kicked me here and I punched him a couple of times, then he drew a knife on me. At that point I became afraid and surrendered.
KING: How did it end? How many hours were you held?
HOSTILO: Almost 25. Throughout the night -- throughout the night, on three separate occasions -- well, two separate occasions, Larry, the first time at about 6:00 a.m. on the 17th, we tried to surrender through my convincing and an attorney by the name of Lovett Bennett, a good friend of mine on the outside who I had contact contacted via my cell phone and then later using the police phone. KING: Trying to get him to surrender?
HOSTILO: Correct. And using Lovett Bennett and me and the authorities on the outside. That was a failed attempt. And at about 6:30 to 6:45, we tried a second time to surrender. Mr. Brower got nervous. Shots were fired. We entered back into the...
KING: He had a gun?
HOSTILO: No, sir, I never saw a gun. I saw knives.
KING: Shots were fired from where, outside?
HOSTILO: I believe from the authorities.
KING: How did it end?
HOSTILO: Finally at about 9:00, he was tired. I think he'd received some injuries when he and I got in a skirmish. Wanted some medical treatment. I assured him that he would get to see Lovett Bennett, speak with an attorney, get to see a judge. And to be quite honest, it ended in a coin flip. He said to me, I'm going to flip a coin. If it comes up tails, I don't trust you. If it comes up heads, I trust you. Ironically it came out heads.
KING: And what did you do, walked outside again?
HOSTILO: We walked out and we surrendered. And again, I negotiated the whole process with the police. And I kind of -- I said, it failed once, it failed twice, this is the third time. If it doesn't go this way, it's going to backfire. And we were able to pull it off.
KING: Do you know the lawyer who's going to represent him now?
HOSTILO: No, Larry. I do not, no.
KING: We'll be right back. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERRY MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now the suspects have been identified as Robert and Connie Brower. Police say Brower has a criminal record going back several years. Again, this standoff is now in its 15th hour.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Just for the record, we contacted the public defender representing Robert and Connie Brower who had no comment. You told me also that he had bone cancer, has bone cancer?
HOSTILO: That's what I -- it is -- some information has been provided to me he has terminal bone cancer. I don't know where that -- you know. I learned this after the fact.
KING: You learn a lot about yourself during something like this?
HOSTILO: I learned what's important in life. I kind of thought I knew what was important. But I certainly -- if I didn't have them before, I'll certainly have my priorities in order.
KING: You have family?
HOSTILO: Yes. Only child, mother and father, girlfriend.
KING: Wanted to be a Marine, right?
HOSTILO: Originally, originally. They wouldn't have me, had bad eyes. So I went to law school. It's turned out OK.
KING: Does this make you a little nervous? Do you look behind you when you walk into the office now? Or you haven't gone back to work?
HOSTILO: I've been to my Savannah office on several occasions, but not back to Statesboro. My parents have been sort of reluctant to let me go back. But it changes your perspective, yes. You don't have as much faith in humans that you once had.
KING: Were there moments when you thought he's going to kill you?
HOSTILO: Sure. When I tried to escape and he gagged me and tied me down and threw me in one of the offices for a couple of hours. I thought I was going to die, absolutely.
KING: Amazing that you haven't spoken to the secretaries.
HOSTILO: I have spoken to the secretaries as it relates to business or to make sure they're OK. Again, my family was very adamant that they didn't want me in that atmosphere right now. And I'm attempting to go back on the 13th of February.
You know, I'd like to say I'm a tough guy, but Larry, I don't know how I'm going to react. I don't know how I'm going to handle it. It's changed the way I perceive my practice and the practice of law.
But I'm going to tell you right now, he's not going to dictate whether I practice law again. I'm not going to let Robert Brower run me out. But it sure has an effect. We represent way too many good people and they need my representation. And I owe that to them.
KING: What do you think about the wife?
HOSTILO: She -- I'm not a psychiatrist. But I would say she was a classic sort of pacifist, just followed his lead. She was just his lieutenant.
KING: Give you a lot of credit, Michael, you sure came through it. Thanks for coming up. HOSTILO: Thanks, Larry. Thanks for having me.
KING: Michael Hostilo, the attorney from Statesboro, Georgia, held hostage over 24 hours. We're a tight-knit family here at LARRY KING LIVE and tonight a member of our extended family is gone. Our senior editorial producer Carol Buckland lost her father last Wednesday. Eskeli Buckland (ph) was 83-years-old. He passed away in Pompano Beach, Florida, after a bravely fought battle with cancer. Besides Carol, Eskeli (ph) leaves behind a son Eric (ph) and three grandsons, Brian (ph), Andrew (ph), and Jonathan (ph). Carol, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family tonight.
Tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE, we'll bring back the case of "Growing Pains." They're a lot of fun, that was a great show for many years. They will all be assembled here in our Larry King studios. We'll be taking your calls, as well.
Right now it's time to turn our attention to New York where attention is demanded. Or that's what it says in my script here, but turn your attention to New York. It's the man, Anderson Cooper. Who knows? Anderson Cooper will host "A.C. 360," on demand.
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