03/04/2008 (www.MyFoxChicago.com) Larry Yellen Reporting

Can Feds Get Drew Peterson for Crime Other Than Murder?”



Can Feds Get Drew Peterson for Crime Other Than Murder?

RECAP done by "Snicker"

Feds and Peterson

Chicago -- If the search for Stacy Peterson gets bogged down, a former prosecutor says it might be time for federal authorities to get involved. Investigative reporter Larry Yellen explains how that could shake up the case.

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Transcript (done by Snicker):

Reporter Larry Yellen: Just like Stacy Peterson, millionaire candy heiress Helen Brach seemed to disappear. The elderly widow never said goodbye to anyone, never left behind a note and now three decades later her body has never been found. Nobody was ever officially charged with her murder. But that never stopped federal prosecutors from convicting Richard Bailey -- the man who evidence showed wanted the woman dead.

Steven Miller: My investigations were in many ways archeological digs of failed state and local police investigations.

Reporter: It was Steven Miller who led the Bailey prosecution. He suggests that if police are convinced that Drew Peterson murdered either Stacy Peterson or Kathleen Savio but they can't make a murder case, they should try another theory.

Steven Miller: Follow the fraud, solve the murder. '

Reporter: Bailey's case was one of three which Miller prosecuted almost two decades ago where he used mail or insurance fraud to put suspected murderers behind bars.

Steven Miller: We're not at all unhappy with the sentence.

Reporter: In addition to Bailey there was Deborah Hartman. Police believe she plotted her husband's murder to collect $500,000 in insurance proceeds. And Thomas York, who police believed had killed his wife and also his business partner.

Steven Miller: Thomas York was a former Chicago police officer and because of that training and experience, he knew how to avoid leaving the source of evidence that he knew the local police and prosecutors feel they needed to prosecute him for a murder.

Reporter: So the feds put him away for forty years on a mail fraud theory. York's attorney, however, recalls that there was an awful lot of circumstantial evidence connecting York to those murders.

Attorney: The financial aspect of it was the tail on the dog. The dog was the circumstantial evidence that connected Tom York to both murders.'

Reporter: Miller says local and state police often don't have the tools or the inclination to look beyond a murder charge.

Steven Miller: They are always looking for either a witness, a confession, or forensic evidence that ties a suspect the murder.

Brodsky: I don't see anything here for ah, ah that would give it federal jurisdiction.

Reporter: Drew Peterson's attorney Joel Brodsky says that Peterson's divorce from Kathleen Savio and Savio's will were both handled properly, so there's no fraud to investigate.

Brodsky: The will was authenticated. The, um, share in proceeds went probate, um, that's been locked up in an account for the children . . .

Reporter: As FoxNews Chicago revealed, Savio died only a few weeks before she would have recieved her portion of the divorce settlement and with her death, under her will, it all went to Drew Peterson.

Steven Miller: There are going to be pleadings that have been, um, um, sent to court through the mails and the like and that's all it takes to create federal jurisdiction.

Reporter: Miller says that if federal prosecutors plan to examine the Peterson case they better get involved soon -- there is no statute of limitations for murder -- for mail fraud it's five years.