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Los Alamos whistle-blower beaten outside bar Tuesday, June 7, 2005 Posted: 1511 GMT (2311 HKT)
Whistle-blower Tommy Hook recovers Sunday at a Sante Fe, New Mexico, hospital.
SANTA FE, New Mexico (AP) -- A Los Alamos lab whistle-blower scheduled to testify before Congress was badly beaten in an attack outside a Santa Fe bar.
Tommy Hook was in a hospital recovering from a fractured jaw and other injuries, his wife, Susan Hook, said Monday.
Hook's wife and his lawyer believe the attack was designed to keep him quiet.
Susan Hook said the assailants told her husband during the attack early Sunday that "if you know what's good for you, you'll keep your mouth shut."
Tommy Hook has a pending lawsuit against the University of California alleging whistle-blower retaliation. He had been scheduled to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee later this month about alleged financial irregularities at the nuclear weapons lab.
Police and the FBI said they are investigating.
According to Hook's wife, the 52-year-old lab employee got a telephone call late Saturday night -- after he was already in bed -- wanting to meet with him at a Santa Fe bar about 45 minutes from their home.
She said her husband told her the man never showed up, but as he was leaving the topless bar's parking lot, a group of men pulled him from his car and beat him.
"They left him in the parking lot for dead," Hook's lawyer, Robert Rothstein, said Monday at a news conference where pictures of Hook's bruised and swollen face were passed around.
His wife, who sobbed when the pictures were distributed, said the attackers "beat him up with their feet first, because he has shoe marks on his face, and then used their fists."
Rothstein said the assailants didn't take Hook's wallet, other personal belongings or his car. In the absence of any other motive, it appears the beating was related to his whistle-blowing, Rothstein contended.
"It is clear to us that this was a message," Susan Hook said.
She said her husband had been told last week by a friend about someone who had information about the lab. A planned meeting with that informant on Friday never materialized, and Hook believed that's who he was going to meet on Saturday, she said.
Susan Hook, who was in Albuquerque visiting their grown sons when the incident happened, said her husband did not frequent bars and she believed his account of the attack. The assailants did not specifically mention the lab, she also said.
Lab spokesman Kevin Roark said the beating of Hook -- who works in the Prime Contract Office, an internal oversight group -- was "a senseless and brutal act and should not be tolerated."
The university and the lab are "outraged" about the assault, according to a statement released by the lab.
Hook and another whistle-blower, Chuck Montano, sued the university in March, alleging that after they uncovered management failures, university and lab managers tried to make their jobs miserable so they would quit.
Hook had been voicing complaints about lab management for years. He testified in a 1997 deposition that the chief of the lab's audit division "didn't want to see certain things put in reports," including "unallowable costs" and "embarrassment to the university."
-------------------- America's debt problem is a "sign of leadership failure"
We have "reckless fiscal policies"
America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership.
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