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U.S. SUGAR CALLS FOR SPECIAL PROSECUTOR TO PROBE U.S ATTORNEY'S OFFICE ROLE IN EVERGLADES LAWSUIT

 CLEWISTON, Fla., Feb. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- United States Sugar Corporation today asked President Clinton to consider appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the conduct of the Miami U.S. Attorney's office in the four-year old Everglades lawsuit.
 "The handling of this case by the U.S. Attorney's staff has been rife with irregularities that together represent a major abuse of power," said Robert H. Buker, senior vice president, on behalf of the company. The letter emphasized the call was not for an investigation of U.S. Atty. Robert Martinez, who has recused himself from the case, but of a team headed by Asst. U.S. Atty. Susan Ponzoli.
 In this latest development in what some are calling the "Gladesgate" scandal, the letter to the President detailed numerous irregularities, highlighting the detainment, one week ago, of Duke University Wetlands Center scientists at the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Preserve in Palm Beach County and confiscation of their equipment.
 While the U.S. Attorney's office was a party to the settlement agreement with the State to resolve allegations that farm water runoff was damaging the Everglades, the U.S. Attorney's office has since dictated terms of the state's regulatory proceedings at the South Florida Water Management District, "threatening renewed legal action whenever state officials didn't follow their lead."
 The letter cited a number of irregularities:
 1 -- The case was brought without the approval of any other federal agency, a procedure required of all Federal Justice Department actions.
 2 -- The U.S. Attorney's staff required state officials to violate Florida's public records laws and government in the sunshine laws, hiding documents supporting the settlement agreement from public view.
 3 -- Federal attorneys threatened a Smithsonian Institution scientist with prosecution if he tested Everglades cleanup methods.
 4 -- The U.S. Attorney's office refused to allow the National Academy of Sciences to be brought in to evaluate the scientific issues in the dispute.
 5 -- The U.S. Attorney's staff has disrupted at every turn efforts to scientifically evaluate Everglades problems, inhibiting research and hindering access to sample and evaluate data.
 Of the request for a special prosecutor, the letter added, it "is not made lightly. It is unusual, even unprecedented. But the pending prosecution of the Duke scientists for taking water samples suggests an office drunk with the arrogance of power. The Justice Department itself is not the right agency to examine abuses that may have received at least silent assent from supervisors in Washington. federal rules, if not Federal laws, may have been violated. Certainly, there is an alarming appearance of impropriety."
 -0- 2/19/93
 /CONTACT: Robert Buker of U.S. Sugar Corporation, 813-983-8121/


CO: U.S. Sugar Corporation ST: Florida IN: SU:

JB -- FL007 -- 8568 02/19/93 17:15 EST
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Date:Feb 19, 1993
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