The Insider

Operation DeGuerin Strike
The sole defendant facing trial in the FBI's Operation Lightning Strike sting of NASA contractors and employees is aiming to zap his accusers with some legal electricity of his own.
Dale Brown has landed a DeGuerin to wage his courtroom battle next week, although it wasn't the DeGeurin he originally sought. U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr. has allowed Brown to retain noted attorney Dick DeGuerin to defend him after previously ruling that a potential conflict of interest precluded DeGuerin's brother, Mike DeGeurin, from acting as Brown's attorney (Dick changed the spelling of his family name to reflect his Huguenot ancestry). In defending Brown, who's accused of giving a $500 bribe to an Army procurement officer to influence the award of a Defense Department contract, DeGuerin reportedly hopes to parade a who's who of current and former NASA brass -- including Dan Goldin and James Beggs -- before the jury.

DeGuerin, you may recall, defended U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in court and, before that, intervened on David Koresh's behalf during the Branch Davidians' standoff with federal authorities. Don't be surprised if he adopts the same posture he took representing Hutchison and Koresh. "Clearly the government was out of bounds," DeGuerin says of Lightning Strike. "I think it points out the need for a statute or judicially imposed rule that it is improper for our government to go around and try to create crimes just so that they can prosecute."

Depends on Who You Are
Dennis Rodman's Sports Illustrated musings about homosexuality were greeted by the sporting press with the predictable uneasy titters. Leading the chorus of sniggering locally was Chronicle columnist Dale Robertson. On the eve of the Rockets' final victory over Rodman's San Antonio Spurs, Robertson squeezed out an entire column ragging "the Rod-child," wherein he suggested Spurs coach Bob Hill "bend [Rodman] over and paddle his butt." We'll assume the imagery of the white massa spanking a rebellious black man was unintended (and how Robertson missed the Madonna as "Plantation Missy" analogy we'll never know), but what followed wasn't: "Knowing Dennis, though," wrote Robertson, who doubtless has made an extensive effort to know Dennis, "he'd beg for more." Robertson actually had limboed lower a few days earlier during a half-time appearance on the last Rockets' pay-per-view telecast. When the Prime Sports interviewer asked why the scribe wasn't wearing his trademark leather pants, Robertson laughingly replied that he had left the animal-skin britches at home because he was afraid that Rodman might find him alluring. No, Dale, it's the perm that makes you so attractive to other men.

One Houstonian who actually did get to know Rodman a bit came away favorably impressed. As the Spurs forward lolled courtside at The Summit during the decisive game of the Rockets-Spurs series, he could be seen carrying on an animated discussion with lawyer Rusty Hardin, a former prosecutor who's dealt with plenty of bad actors in his time and represented Rudy T in getting that DWI charge against the coach dropped.

"He turns out to be a very pleasant guy in conversation," Hardin says of the tattooed rebounding wonder. "He obviously thinks the refs zero in on him." When they chatted, Rodman had just left the game after a zebra assessed him for a questionable flagrant foul against Sam Cassell. Meanwhile, Spurs center David Robinson hammered Hakeem Olajuwon and was not called at all. "If yours was a flagrant foul, what the hell was that?" Hardin chortled to Rodman. "Just depends on who you are, I guess," Rodman replied ruefully.

The Insider was compiled by Tim Fleck. Give him a jingle and dish at 624-1483 (voice)or 624-1496 (fax).

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