Congressman may face criminal probe over missing Chandra

Prosecutors were today deciding whether to launch a criminal investigation into claims that the congressman at the centre of a Washington intern’s disappearance tried to obstruct police.

Prosecutors were today deciding whether to launch a criminal investigation into claims that the congressman at the centre of a Washington intern’s disappearance tried to obstruct police.

Gary Condit is alleged to have put a woman who claims to be his former lover under pressure to deny their affair.

Condit, 53, is the married politician at the centre of the mystery disappearance of Chandra Levy, a 24-year-old intern with whom he was reportedly having an affair and who was last seen more than 11 weeks ago.

Anne Marie Smith, a 39-year-old air hostess, claims Condit’s lawyer sent her a written statement which she was to sign denying they were ever lovers.

Her lawyer, Jim Robinson, claims the move by Condit and his lawyer was tantamount to obstructing the course of the police investigation.

Today United States federal prosecutors were meeting to decide if they should put the married father-of-two, from Modesto, California, under a criminal investigation which could result in charges.

Condit twice lied to police in Washington about his affair with Levy before finally admitting it a week ago in a third interview with detectives, the FBI and prosecutors.

He was today reported to have handed over a sample of DNA and forensic tests were also set to begin on items taken from his apartment when it was searched on Wednesday.

A spot of blood was discovered in the bathroom and specks of blood were detected by special equipment in the living room and will be tested to see if their source can be found.

Police in Washington were also continuing their search of abandoned houses in the north-west of the city, where Chandra lived before she disappeared.

Dozens of police probed the buildings, accompanied by dogs specially trained to find human remains, but tonight had yet to find any evidence of the missing woman.

Assistant Police Chief Terry Gainer said: ‘‘We have to explore the possibility that she may be dead and we’re looking for remains.’’

Condit’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, is still negotiating with police over the congressman taking a lie-detector test and is trying to restrict the questions included in the test.

Police were also preparing to release three computer-generated pictures of Chandra with different hair colour and styles, in case she disappeared voluntarily and has tried to conceal her identity.

And there was a denial today that Chandra was pregnant with Condit’s baby when she went missing on April 30.

A source close to her family told the New York Daily news they were certain the 24-year-old was not pregnant, as the National Enquirer had reported authorities believe she told a friend.

There was also a denial from Condit that he had an affair with an 18-year-old woman, whose father, a clergyman, claimed the two had been involved.

The Rev Otis Thomas said his daughter Jennifer had been Condit’s lover for three years, but a spokesman for the politician denied the affair and Miss Thomas left a note on her door saying: ‘‘I never met the congressman who’s involved in all this.’’

And as pressure mounted on Condit, the first calls came from his colleagues in the House of Representatives for Condit to quit.

Bob Barr, a Republican, said: ‘‘I believe he should resign rather than bring further discredit on the House of Representatives.’’

Other politicians were keeping quiet but today Condit’s chief of staff said none of the congressman’s staff was planning to resign.

And Chandra’s parents, Robert and Susan, spoke to America’s equivalent of Crimewatch and said they were shattered by their ordeal.

Robert Levy told the programme: ‘‘We care, crying and yelling and weeping and mourning.

‘‘We cannot do it all the time any more because it doesn’t help. You have to go back to some kind of normal life because you want to get to the bottom of it.’’

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