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Archive for Sunday, May 4, 2003

Reporters name sources in Smart case leaks

May 4, 2003

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— Two reporters fired for working with the National Enquirer on an Elizabeth Smart story revealed their law enforcement sources to avoid legal action against them by the Smart family.

Randy Dryer, an attorney for the Smarts, said Friday that the reporters, Michael Vigh and Kevin Cantera, received information from sources within the police, FBI, Utah Department of Public Safety and the Secret Service soon after Elizabeth was kidnapped from her bedroom.

Dryer refused to identify any of the sources.

"Clearly this is explosive information that could have detrimental impacts on people's jobs and their careers," Dryer said.

Dryer was hired by the Smarts to find the source of the leaks that led to an Enquirer story on July 2 headlined "Utah Cops: Secret Diary Exposes Family Sex Ring." Vigh and Cantera, paid $10,000 each by the Enquirer, were fired Tuesday from the Salt Lake City Tribune for lying about their work for the tabloid.

The Enquirer has retracted the story, settled with the Smart family and apologized for the false information.

Tribune editor James Shelledy resigned Thursday because of the scandal, which owner-publisher Dean Singleton said has done serious damage to the Tribune's credibility.

Elizabeth was found in a Salt Lake City suburb in March with two drifters who were unrelated to the family. The pair, Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee, are being held in a Salt Lake County jail.

Dryer also said Cantera told him he fabricated information he claimed was from a family member's journal that the Enquirer cited as another source.

Copies of a letter laying out the information on the leaks was sent to the U.S. attorney, the state attorney general and the Salt Lake County district attorney, Dryer said.

The city police Friday issued a statement saying the department hadn't received "any specific information" about leaks to reporters. Police Chief Rick Dinse would not comment on Dryer's letter.

The Secret Service also refused to comment, citing an ongoing internal investigation. Calls to the FBI were not immediately returned. The Department of Public Safety said it had no additional information regarding Dryer's letter.

The Smart family, in a statement, said they "hold no personal animosity toward those who have acted in less than honorable ways."

Mayor Rocky Anderson has ordered Police Chief Rick Dinse to identify and discipline any department personnel who leaked information -- true or false -- about the Smart investigation.

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