Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Murder of Radio Free Asia Attorney Robert Wone and Obstruction of Justice

CIA and Robert Wone

Robert Wone was drugged and sexually assaulted, police say. (By Mel Barnhart -- Radio Free Asia)

"Radio Free Asia’s general counsel." Radio Free Asia has been supported since its inception by the CIA. The latest update in the case, published on January 20, is the last article posted below. Any general counsel to a CIA front knows of skeletal burial plots ...

Cover-Up Alleged in D.C. Killing Of Lawyer
By Paul Duggan and Clarence Williams
Washington Post
November 1, 2008; Page A01

A police affidavit made public yesterday provided a wealth of new details about one of the District's most mysterious homicide cases, yet it failed to answer the central questions of who killed prominent lawyer Robert Wone in an elegant Dupont Circle townhouse -- and why.

The people who probably could help provide that information -- three male housemates who lived in the $1.2 million residence -- covered up evidence in a bid to mask what actually happened, the affidavit alleges. One has now been charged with obstructing justice as authorities step up pressure to solve the case.

Authorities said from the start that Wone, 32, general counsel for Radio Free Asia, was fatally stabbed late Aug. 2, 2006, while staying overnight at the Swann Street NW townhouse. Yesterday, they revealed that he was probably drugged into a paralytic-like state and sexually assaulted. The three stab wounds were neat and nearly identical, suggesting that Wone was incapacitated and unable to fend off his attacker, the affidavit says.

Story continues
Obstruction of Justice Arrest in Robert Wone Murder Case
November 02, 2008

By Judy Tseng
Special to ModelMinority.com
November 1, 2008

Dylan Ward, 38, was arrested in Dade County, Florida on Thursday, October 30, 2008 on a charge of obstruction of justice in the Robert Wone murder investigation. Wone, a prominent young attorney and president-elect of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association- D.C., was found stabbed to death in a Washington, D.C. rowhouse at 1509 Swann Street, N.W. the night of August 2, 2006.

For two years, little to no news had been released about the murder, though suspicion surrounded the occupants of the home: Joseph Price, a law partner at Arent Fox [NOTE - Arent Fox has represented, among others, a key staffer for Bob Ney of Ohio, and "brokered an agreement with the US Department of Justice on behalf of ... the former chief of staff to US Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio that allowed Heaton to become one of the few people involved in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal to receive no jail time. Instead, Judge Ellen Huvelle sentenced (AF's) client to two years probation, community service and a $5,000 fine, attributing the lenient sentence to former staffer's decision to cooperate with the federal government’s probe of corruption on Capitol Hill, which was instrumental in the conviction of Rep. Ney. ... Ney was later sentenced to 30 months in federal prison." Avent Fox was also instrumental in the AIPAC Espionage Act case. Fred Thompson, the recent presidential candidate from Tennessee, has worked as a lobbyist for Arent Fox.] and former general counsel for Equality Virginia who had attended the College of William and Mary with Wone; Victor Zaborsky, a marketing manager for the International Dairy Foods Association and Price’s domestic partner; and Ward, allegedly their “boy toy” and a massage therapist, direct marketing consultant, and former spokesman for Equality Virginia. At the time of arrest, Ward was living in a Miami area home owned by Price and Zaborsky. Price and Zaborsky sold 1509 Swann St. for a little over $1.4 million in June 2008 and moved elsewhere in the D.C. area.

Stunning and disturbing details of Robert Wone’s murder and cover-up are contained in a sworn affidavit supporting Ward’s arrest. The information contained contends that Wone was drugged by means of many injections in his neck, hand, foot, and chest. There was evidence of sexual assault and three precise stab wounds to Wone’s chest area, and no defensive wounds. There was very little blood evidence as would be expected in such an attack, and Wone’s body was found dressed and neatly laying on a sofabed in the guestroom, on top of the bed, with his head resting on a pillow. There were no signs of burglary or struggle.

Two paramedics who arrived at the scene found Ward, Zaborsky, and Price’s behavior unusual and suspicious. Zaborsky had called 911 at 11:49 p.m., yet Wone appeared to have already been dead for some time by the time paramedics arrived. The 911 operator had specifically told Zaborsky that they should hold towels to Wone’s chest wounds, yet there was no sign that any of the men had done so. Upon the paramedics’ arrival, Zaborsky was wearing a bathrobe, standing near the home’s entrance and talking on a cellphone. He ignored the paramedic despite being asked, “What’s going on?” Ward also ignored the paramedic’s query, instead, wordlessly walking back to his own bedroom on the second floor. Price, in his underwear, was sitting on the edge of the sofabed where Wone was, lifeless. None of them were screaming or helping to direct the paramedics to help Robert Wone.

The inconsistent and dubious statements and behaviors of the three residents are contained in the warrant signed by D.C. Detective Waid. After the murder occurred, Price called his basement tenant, Sarah Morgan, who had spent the night elsewhere. He allegedly told her to stay away from the home and focused on the fact that he, Zaborsky, and Ward were all okay instead of mentioning that someone had just been murdered in their home. Due to the depth of Wone’s stab wounds, blood evidence, and the lack of fibers matching Wone’s T-shirt, the knife found next to the sofabed was most likely not the actual murder weapon. Rather, the murder weapon was more likely a missing knife from a culinary set in Dylan Ward’s room. In Ward’s bedroom, detectives also found numerous S&M items, sexual devices, bondage materials with certain passages highlighted, and a New Yorker magazine that contained a picture of Shakespeare’s death position—Wone’s body was discovered in a similar position.

According to the warrant, Ward, Price, and Zaborsky all stated that August 2, 2006 was the first time Wone had spent the night at their home and that Wone was heterosexual. The warrant also states that based on the investigation, Wone was heterosexual, happily married, and had had no sexual relationships with either of the men.

Dylan Ward is being transported back to Washington, D.C. There is no word on whether murder charges will be brought, or whether Joseph Price or Victor Zaborsky will also be arrested. Ward’s attorney, David Schertler, a former Assistant United States Attorney turned criminal defense lawyer, maintains that his client is innocent.

Last August, at a press conference held at Wone’s former law firm Covington & Burling, attorney Eric Holder stated, “He was a kind and gentle man, and he was stabbed to death, killed in the most horrible of ways. As despicable as that crime was and is, as big a tragedy as that is, it is compounded by the fact that Robert’s killer has not been brought to justice.”

In the last two years since Robert Wone’s death, many events and awards have honored his memory. The Asian Pacific American Bar Association Educational Fund, of which Wone was a boardmember, has established a scholarship for law students in his name. The Organization of Chinese Americans- New Jersey chapter awarded a scholarship to a high school student in his memory. The Virginia Commission on Community Service also created an award in his memory. A forum on judicial clerkships directed at minority law students, originally initiated by Robert Wone, has now been named after him and takes place annually at Howard University Law School.

This past summer, during the Organization of Chinese Americans’ (OCA) national convention in Washington, D.C., a room in the new national building was named after Wone. Despite working long hours as an associate attorney, Wone spent many hours, pro bono, helping the OCA in purchasing its building in downtown D.C. Wone remains an inspiring figure in the greater Asian American and Washington, D.C. community.

D.C. Police: Site of Lawyer's Murder Shows Signs of Tampering
Emma Schwartz
Legal Times
August 14, 2006

... The victim was, by all accounts, a personable and accomplished young man. Wone, 32, who was the child of Chinese immigrants, grew up in New York City. He came to D.C. six years ago to work for the prestigious law firm of Covington & Burling. Earlier this summer he became general counsel for Radio Free Asia, a nonprofit organization that broadcasts news to Asian countries that lack a free press. He also was president-elect of the local chapter of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association.

Wone lived with his wife of three years in the Washington suburb Oakton, Va. But he often spent the night in town with friends from his college years, ostensibly because of his long work hours. Because some of those friends were gay, that has caused some to speculate about Wone's sexual orientation.

On the night of Aug. 2, Wone and a colleague attended a D.C. Bar association course and separated at about 9:30 p.m. Over the next two hours, Wone made his way to 1509 Swann St. NW, the house where he would later be brutally slain.

The house was purchased within the last year by Joseph Price, 34, and Victor Zaborsky, 40, for nearly $1.3 million. Price and Wone knew each other from their undergraduate days at the College of William and Mary. They exchanged e-mails earlier in the day on Aug. 2.

Price is an intellectual properties attorney with Arent Fox, a large D.C. law firm. He co-founded the gay rights group Equality Virginia and serves as its legal counsel. He has litigated several prominent gay rights cases on a pro bono basis, including the recent decision by the Vermont Supreme Court on child visitation for a lesbian couple who dissolved their civil union, with one returning to live in Virginia.

Price and Zaborsky were prominently featured in a 2004 article on gay parents in USA Today -- each has provided sperm to a lesbian couple, producing two sons who live with their mothers in Maryland.

The third resident of 1509 Swann St. is Dylan Ward, who was the development director for Equality Virginia until May of this year. Price was instrumental in securing the grant that allowed Equality Virginia to hire Ward, according to the organization's Web site.

All three told police they were asleep when the attack on Wone occurred, at about 11:30 p.m., and that it must have been done by an intruder. The police became suspicious of that story when they could find no evidence of forced entry or burglary. Then the residents of the Swann Street house clammed up, each retaining a lawyer.

Police forensics technicians found evidence that the ''crime scene had been tampered with, including the area where the victim's body was located had been cleaned…trace blood evidence was located on the walls, floors, sofa bed and door frame of the bedroom where the decedent was killed,'' read the affidavit of Detective William Xanten III in seeking a search warrant from the court.

That kicked off a massive processing of the property, with the help of FBI forensics experts, for any piece of evidence that might contribute to proving who murdered Wone, or to demolish any alternative scenario that a future defendant might offer.

That investigation has stretched into a second week.

Smudges of black powder used to dust for fingerprints are clearly visible on the white front window frames and casings. There were reports of hammering and sawing coming from the townhouse, suggesting that portions of the blood-spattered walls and floor might have been removed for processing, to hold as evidence. .

''The owners are going to have to renovate the place before they move back in,'' said Sgt. Brett Parson, commanding police officer of the D.C. Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, who is participating in the investigation.

The warrant also extended to Price's office at Arent Fox. It was searched and his computer was taken for examination.

Parson acknowledges that with lawyers for the residents having become involved so quickly and the lack of cooperation from Price, Zaborsky and Wade, the department is particularly sensitive to the need to do everything by the book so that the case is not thrown out on a minor technicality.

That means taking the time to fully process all of the forensic evidence they have gathered, and then re-interviewing all of the residents of 1509 Swann in light of that evidence, sifting for inconsistencies.

Says Parson, ''We are going to close this case, though it is going to take a while.''

Robert Wone’s Death: More Details, Still No Answers

Murder in Dupont
A stabbing death in a Swann Street townhouse leaves more questions asked than answered

By Bob Roehr
August 17, 2006

... I was at Robert’s funeral. It was perhaps the saddest funeral I have ever attended and I never even met him. Both my husband and one of our dearest friends went to college with Robert and with Arent Fox attorney Joe Price, one of the three men who lived in the house where Robert was killed. I know Joe, his partner, Victor Zaborsky, and Dylan Ward, who was charged last week with obstruction of justice, tangentially and have been to the Swann house a couple of times for cocktails. All three of them are funny and sweet and I have seen true acts of kindness from them regarding our mutual friend.

I don’t know what happened the night Robert was killed, but the affidavit describes a murder worse than I imagined, inferring that he was drugged, sexually assaulted, and was alive for some time after being stabbed repeatedly in the chest. It’s a difficult read for anyone, but I especially worry about Robert’s wife. Kathy Wone clearly lost the love of her life and, amazingly, was able to stand in front of a packed church in August 2006 and give a eulogy that was touching and funny and heart-breaking. ...


Was Joe Price Out of Control?

... In the recently released affidavit for search warrant, it reveals that "Contained within [Price's office computer] were a large number of male pornographic pictures that included included depictions of Sado-Masochistic behavior and bondage." Now, I don't think anyone will judge Price for what he does in the privacy of his own home, but you would have to think that a partner at a major Washington DC law firm would know better than to have fetish pictures on his office computer. And if he knew better, which one could certainly argue, then was his sexual behavior out of control? And if it was out of control, was it then, maybe, a cry for help? Unable to control his behavior, he sought to leave a trail that would reveal him? A person who doesn't want to be known for his fetish practices would NOT have photos on his OFFICE computer. ... "

Young Lawyer's Murder Not Expected to Lead to Homicide Charge
New York Lawyer
January 20. 2009

By Mike Scarcella

WASHINGTON - An Assistant U.S. Attorney said Friday in D.C. Superior Court that, "barring something unforeseen," the government does not plan to bring a murder case against Arent Fox lawyer Joseph Price, his domestic partner Victor Zaborsky and their roommate Dylan Ward.

At Friday's hearing, Price, Zaborsky and Ward pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and evidence tampering stemming from the murder of Robert Wone in August 2006. The latest charges were laid out in a superseding indictment filed Thursday.

Judge Frederick Weisberg asked whether the government planned to go to trial on the superseding indictment. "At this moment, your Honor, that's a fair assumption," Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner replied.

Last year, the defendants were arrested and charged with obstruction. The superseding indictment alleges the men participated in a conspiracy to cover up the circumstances surrounding the fatal stabbing of Wone, who was killed in Price and Zaborsky's row house near Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. Prosecutors allege Price, Zaborsky and Ward -- either individually or in concert -- cleaned Wone's body after his death and placed him on a bed.

Defense lawyers Thomas Connolly, Bernie Grimm and David Schertler have questioned the strength of the government's case in briefs and arguments at recent court hearings. Weisberg Friday set a status conference for April 24. Schertler of Schertler & Onorato told the judge he expects the trio of lawyers to share experts.

Kirschner noted that FBI analysis of forensic evidence is ongoing, but the prosecutor did not elaborate in court or in an interview after the hearing. The government has turned over discovery to the defense. In a letter to Kirschner this month, Grimm, a Cozen O'Connor partner, pressed the government to turn over additional documents, including all laboratory reports.

Weisberg Friday also signed an order, prepared by the government, to unseal search warrant affidavits in the Wone investigation. The judge said he wants the case to go to trial this year. He doesn't want the case "to get a lot of age on it."

Wone's family was in court Friday with Covington & Burling partner Benjamin Razi, who is representing the Wones in a wrongful death action against Price, Zaborsky and Ward. Outside the courtroom, the defendants hugged well-wishers, thanking them for attending the hearing.


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