Appeals court panel rules against contractor

Friday, April 27th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday rejected an Idaho contractor's request to force federal prosecutors to reveal their sources in a criminal investigation of the Tar Creek Superfund cleanup.

A three-judge panel of the Denver appeals court ruled against Morrison Knudsen Corp., which sought the identity of government informants.

U.S. attorneys in Tulsa began looking into the company more than a year ago. Agents used information from informants as the basis for seizing Morrison Knudsen records in February 2000 for the investigation.

The company had a multi-million dollar government contract to clean up the polluted site at Picher in northeast Oklahoma.

Federal authorites are trying to determine if the Boise company deliberately overbilled the government, falsified records or covered up safety mishaps.

The panel ruled 3-0 that Morrison Knudsen, now known as Washington Group International Inc., is not entitled to learn the informants' identity. Their identities are is believed to be in court affidavits used to obtain the warrants, but the affidavits are sealed under court order.

The Grove Sun Daily reported last year that the affidavits allege that fraudulent practices by Morrison Knudsen cost the government $1.6 million.

The newspaper gained access to the affidavits when they were unsealed during a three-day period before they were quickly resealed.