Fugitive Is Indicted For Bail-jumping

Posted: July 10, 1991

Self-described revolutionary Elizabeth Ann Duke - a longtime fugitive who has been the focus of a criminal investigation that led to the jailing of a lawyer - was indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury for jumping bail.

Now all the feds have to do is find her.

Duke, 50, has been on the lam since October 1985, when she fled after being released on bail - over the government's objection - to await trial on federal weapons charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald H. Levine said yesterday that the government remained intent on finding Duke but declined to say what efforts were under way to find her. "The FBI is pursuing a fugitive investigation," said Levine.

Duke initially was arrested outside Doylestown in 1985 with an associate, physician Alan Berkman, on charges that they had possessed and stored bomb components. Duke also was charged with unlawfully possessing weapons and for having materials for counterfeiting identification credentials for the FBI and other law-enforcement agencies.

When she was arrested, Duke was seated in the passenger side of a car driven by Berkman, prosecutors said, and her hand was inside a purse that contained a fully loaded 9mm handgun.

Duke was released on bail in July 1985. She disappeared in late October.

While efforts to catch Duke have been unsuccessful, the government

succeeded in jailing one person: lawyer Linda Backiel.

Backiel ultimately ended up serving six months for contempt of court for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury about a note left by Duke in which she described her intention to flee. The note ultimately was to have been typed and distributed as a news release.

Backiel did not formally represent Duke but had agreed to informally assist an attorney who did. Backiel was the last person known to have custody of the note, and federal prosecutors had sought the note to rebut any defense by Duke that she had fled under duress.

During the 1985 hearing that led to her release on bail, Duke said she had lived underground for the previous 18 months because she thought she was on a Ku Klux Klan hit list.

If she's ever apprehended, Duke would face a maximum 10 years in prison on the bail-jumping charge.

She faces other criminal charges as a result of her indictment in 1988 by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia on charges of destroying government property in connection with bombings in 1983 of the National War

College building, the Washington Navy Yard Computer Center and the Capitol.

Berkman, meanwhile, is serving a 12-year federal prison sentence on the weapons charges, for jumping bail in another case and for armed robbery.

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