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Couple who aided Kopp hears him testify in court

The Brooklyn couple who admitted helping James C. Kopp during his 2 1/2 -year run from the law sat in court here Monday and listened to Kopp tell a jury why he shot Dr. Barnett A. Slepian.

Loretta Marra Malvasi and her husband, Dennis, made their first return to U.S. District Court since they were accused of conspiring to harbor Kopp at a time when the FBI had Kopp on its Ten Most Wanted List.

They spent two years and five months in jail for helping Kopp and were released by a federal judge in New Jersey in August 2003 to time served after a controversial plea deal.

After hearing Kopp's testimony Monday, Marra was asked outside the courtroom if she thought Kopp was getting a fair trial.

"This was a show trial, a shameful disgrace," said Marra, now 42, who had been arrested several times before with Kopp in anti-abortion protests and was once chained together with him for hours at a clinic.
She bitterly complained that U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara did not allow Kopp to use a justification defense, that what he did was justified to prevent more abortions. Arcara had ruled against that defense, saying basically that abortion is legal and murder is not.

Asked if she had any regrets in the role that she played in helping Kopp's run from the law, she replied: "Only that I got caught."

How she and her husband got caught is outlined in the testimony of numerous FBI agents, who used a paid informant, intercepted Kopp's e-mails to them from Europe, bugged their apartment and used a little-known technique at the time called a "sneak and peak" warrant.

The warrant allowed FBI agents to break into the couple's apartment while they were away, photograph evidence they found and then leave without telling them of the break-in until after they were arrested.

When Marra and Malvasi attended the January 2001 White Rose Banquet in Maryland as guests of honor they drove there with the informant in a van rented by the FBI, according to court documents.

The FBI heard all the conversation between Brooklyn and Maryland, those court documents revealed, because the FBI had bugged the van.

The informant, The Buffalo News learned, took part in clinic protests to gain the trust of Marra and Malvasi and has been paid a sum of more than six figures by the FBI.

FBI agents also learned that Marra and Malvasi were communicating with Kopp via e-mail and, after a "sneak and peak" raid, found they had an account with Yahoo.

They obtained from Yahoo the e-mail address where Kopp and the couple were leaving messages and found that Kopp was living in Ireland under an assumed name.

After Irish police nearly caught Kopp at the hospital where he was working, the FBI lost touch with him for a while until it intercepted another e-mail message.

"Dear person," the March 21, 2003, began, "this keyboard is all frenchied up."

"The sooner I get about 1,000," the message said, "the sooner you see this smiling, cherubic face."

The FBI monitored plans by Marra and Malvasi to ship $300 to Kopp in France, and when the money arrived at a French post office, Kopp was met by French police and arrested.

Kopp, already convicted of state murder charges in Slepian's murder and serving 25 years to life, faces a life sentence if convicted in U.S. District Court. He is charged with interfering with reproductive services and using a firearm to commit a violent act, charges that carry a life sentence.

Jurors, after hearing final arguments in the case today from Kopp and prosecutors, and being instructed in the law by Arcara, will begin deliberations.

email: mbeebe@buffnews.com

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