WASHINGTON (CN) – A federal judge will not reconsider his ruling that the FBI adequately searched for records on two underbosses of the Gambino crime family at the behest of Pulitzer Prize-winning author George Lardner.
Lardner submitted Freedom of Information Act requests in 1993 and 2003, seeking information on Aniello Dellacroce and Sam Giancana, and on the FBI’s Top Hoodlum Program. He requested a search of all the electronic surveillance indexes, including confidential source and informant files.
“Notwithstanding the fact that many years passed before Lardner received a response from the government, Lardner persevered in his battle for responsive records,” Chief Judge Royce Lamberth wrote.
Lamberth ruled in April that the FBI adequately searched for the records, but ordered the agency to take another look at records it withheld and issue a new Vaughn index describing each document withheld and how its disclosure would damage FBI interests.
Lardner filed a motion for partial reconsideration, arguing that Lamberth committed a “clear error” in his opinion. He claimed that the FBI failed to look for additional records on Giancana, conducted inadequate searches of automated databases, and failed to look through confidential source indexes for additional records on Dellacroce. And he claimed the FBI did not search for the video or photographic records he requested, and failed to search other field offices.
“Contrary to plaintiff’s argument that the FBI failed to describe its search methods, the court determines that the FBI adequately searched for responsive documents,” Lamberth wrote in his Memorandum Opinion on Monday, in response to Lardner’s request for reconsideration.
“Indeed, the FBI detailed the process that it utilized when it manually searched through index cards for responsive files. The standard for determining whether a search was adequate depends on the adequacy of the search for documents, not whether additional potentially responsive documents exist.”
The judge also denied Lardner’s motion for discovery.
Though the FBI released tens of thousands of documents to Lardner, he filed his 2003 lawsuit against the FBI, the Justice Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration and five other John Doe federal agencies, claiming that they had not conducted an adequate search.
A Washington Post investigative reporter for more than 40 years, Lardner won a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 1993, for articles he wrote on the murder of his daughter, Kristen.
“The time has come to bring this case to a conclusion,” Lamberth wrote in his April ruling.