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I knew Budd Dwyer, I was at the trial

by Barry O'Connell

Budd Dwyer: I knew Budd Dwyer, I was at the trial Bud Dwyer I knew Budd Dwyer, I also knew Dauphin County Republican Party Chairman Bill Smith, Judge Malcom Muir, Governor Richard Thornburg, Lt. Governor Bill Scranton, and most of the people involved. I knew them before the trial and I also attended portions of the trial. A contact of mine attended the trial in its entirety so I got constant reports. I also had the chance to dine with Budd during the trial and spend time visiting with him discussing the trial. Just for the record I have no recollection of meeting John Torquato or Bill Smith's wife although it is possible I met them at some political event over the years. Back in the day I used to get around Pennsylvania politics quite a bit.

A few things are rather clear in the trial record. John Torquato intended to bribe Budd Dwyer. He conspired with Bill Smith to bribe Budd Dwyer. Smith willingly participated and he convinced Torquato that for a significant cash payment Dwyer would deliver the contract to Torquato. Now the legal standard requires not just that Budd might be guilty, or even that he looks pretty guilty, the law requires that he be judged before a jury of his peers to be guilty beyond a reasonable shadow of a doubt. That high standard was never reached during the trial.

For Budd to have been guilty he would have had to agree to receive bribes and that would have to be established in a court of law. Case in point to the best of my recollection no evidence was ever presented that Budd knew about the bribes except by the Smiths. This leads to a few pertinent questions:

Q: Why would the Smiths lie?

  • A: The Smiths cut a plea bargain that would minimize their penalty. To get off lighter they had to deliver a bigger fish... Budd Dwyer.

Q: What about Torquato?

  • A: Torquato testified that he conspired with Smith to bribe Dwyer but he was unable to link Budd to the crime because he never discussed the bribes with Budd.

Q: What about physical evidence?

  • A: There was never any physical evidence to to link Budd to the crime.

Q: What about the judge how could he let this happen?

  • A: Poor old Malcolm Muir made it clear from the start that he thought Dwyer was guilty and that he was only interested in a conviction that would not splash mud on important men such as Governor Richard Thornburg. Malcolm Muir was an elderly man and a Republican appointee. One of the Philadelphia papers ran an extensive article dealing with Muir's fitness as a judge. The comparisons between Muir and the Captain in "The Caine Mutiny" speak for themselves, Captain Queeg had his steel balls and Judge Muir had his stopwatch.

Q: But didn't Budd deliver the contract to CTA?

  • A: Budd delivered the contract but that was not illegal. It is not unusual for State Politicians to do big favors for powerful men. Budd was facing reelection and it is reasonable that he would have done a big favor for the Chairman of the Dauphine County Republican Party. Delivering the contract is not illegal unless you can prove that Budd was party to the bribe.

Q: But didn't a jury of his peers find Dwyer guilty.

  • A: A jury found Dwyer guilty, but not a jury of his peers. The Federal Prosecutor West removed anyone with any knowledge of the political process from the Jury pool. A jury but carefully screened not to allow it to be a jury of his peers.

Q: Why was Smith after the big payoff?

  • A: I cannot look into Bill Smith's heart but there has been much speculation that Bill and his cronies planned to use the loot for a congressional race for the seat that George Gekas took.

This is the way I remember things. I have little time and less patience for foolishness so do not write if you want to revel in Budd's death. That being said I can be reached at jboc@spongobongo.com

Best wishes,

Barry O'Connell

See also R. Budd Dwyer and Budd_Dwyer

More Oriental Rug Notes by Barry O'Connell