FBI Gives Reward to Unabomber's Brother
The FBI, which for nearly two decades mounted the most intensive manhunt in bureau history but still failed to catch the serial terrorist known as the Unabomber, gave a $1 million reward to David Kaczynski yesterday for turning in his brother Theodore and solving the case.
David Kaczynski, a 47-year-old Schenectady, N.Y., youth shelter social worker, publicly anguished over tipping federal authorities to his older brother's presence in a remote, hermit's shack in Montana in April 1995. He has said repeatedly that, rather than keep it himself, he will use most of the reward to ease the grief of families victimized by his brother's bombs.
The Kaczynski family feels giving most of the money to the victims "might help us resolve our grief over what happened," he told the Associated Press yesterday.
"That certainly still is his intent," said the Kaczynski family attorney, Anthony Bisceglie.
Kaczynski also said he needs to use some of the reward money to pay off the family's legal bills resulting from the Unabomber case.
A Justice Department spokesman, John Russell, said the $1 million FBI check that was delivered to Bisceglie yesterday was one of the biggest rewards ever paid in a domestic terrorism case. Bisceglie said he forwarded the check to Kaczynski and his wife, Linda Patrik, but he noted that rewards of that size are taxed at the highest bracket even if the money is given to victims' families. Placing the money in trust could lessen the federal and state levies, he said.
"There are lots of possible scenarios, but the best scenario would be for the government to pass legislation making rewards under these circumstances [given to victims' families] tax-exempt," Bisceglie said.
Theodore J. Kaczynski's trial on first-degree murder charges ended last January in a plea agreement in which the government, citing his mental illness, agreed not to seek the death penalty.
Although the FBI amassed thousands of leads over 18 years while futilely tracking the Unabomber, agents did not have a clue to Theodore Kaczynski's identity until his younger brother, at his wife's urging, read a 35,000-word anti-technology manifesto that the serial bomber had prevailed upon The Washington Post and the New York Times to publish. Unabom Task Force agents involved in the manhunt said they may never have found the reclusive, 55-year-old former mathematics professor without the help provided by his brother.
Recognizing in the rambling document delusional themes he had heard or read in letters over a lifetime, particularly after his brother quit his tenured professorship at the University of California at Berkeley, David Kaczynski approached FBI agents through an intermediary and told them about his fears. Even then, David said in an interview after his brother had pleaded guilty, he was not convinced Theodore was the Unabomber.
"I had never seen him violent, not toward me, not toward anyone. I tended to see his anger turned inward," he said.
Even though lead Unabom prosecutor Robert J. Cleary called him a "true American hero," David Kaczynski said he did not consider himself a hero for ending the bombings that killed three people and injured 29 others between 1978 and 1995. But he said he did believe that something good had resulted from his act: the public was safe from more bombings and his brother was safe in prison -- from others and from himself.
It was David Kaczynski who persistently urged the government to consider not only that his brother was guilty of heinous crimes, but also deeply mentally ill, and therefore should not be executed but instead treated for what had been diagnosed as acute paranoid schizophrenia.
At times he was bitterly critical of the government for seeking the death penalty -- before prosecutors changed their minds and offered a plea agreement -- accusing Justice Department officials of wanting to "kill my brother at any cost." He and his mother, Wanda, also criticized the FBI and Unabom Task Force prosecutors for misleading them during the negotiations that led up to their identification of Theodore Kaczynski by suggesting they were interested in obtaining psychiatric help for him and not in pressing for capital punishment.
During the weeks of pretrial hearings that ended with Theodore Kaczynski's guilty plea and a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole, his younger brother sat just 10 feet behind him in the Sacramento, Calif., federal courtroom. However, Theodore never acknowledged his brother's presence, or even looked at him.