Special Reports

The Other Prosecutor Part 3: The Public Cases Compaired

I wanted to make two other comparisons between the disappearance of former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar and the death of Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan Luna.   It is the public case, two parts of it at least.  The first is the press coverage.  The second is the response of the family in both cases.

            Mr. Luna was not an elected public official, but he was a prosecutor at the federal level.  His death might have been a murder, related to his job or for a more personal matter.  It was an obviously unusual death.  Here is what the mainstream Baltimore Sun carried on the case. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bal-luna,0,304612.storygallery  With possible a story at the one year anniversary missing, this was it.  Compare this to the 20 stories run by the CDT in the first month.  Other local media carried the case, as did the local, Washington Post, but there was never the same level of coverage that was seen in the Central Pennsylvania Media Market. 

            There were obviously other stories to cover in the Washington-Baltimore area, but the disappearance of Mr. Gricar was a bigger and longer lasting story.  Mr. Luna’s death never generated a Q & A section, massive message board comments, or blogs.1

The closest thing to a “Missed Leads” article was the revelation, first reported in the Washington Post, that Mr. Luna’s boss, United States Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio, was not totally honest when he said that Mr. Luna was not jeopardy of losing his job. On the sixth anniversary, I found exactly one online story on the case.2  Excluding this blog, that is a total of two for this year.

            And then there is the family.  In the Luna case, Dr. Angela Luna, Mr. Luna’s wife, declines to talk to the press.  I only recall her making one statement, shortly after his death.  She could legally request his autopsy report and relate documents to be released, but has declined to do so.3  The closest thing to a “family spokesman,” Mr. Luna’s father, only sporadically talks to the press, always insisting that he was killed. 4  Those people who knew Mr. Luna and that speak on the record, are generally very old friends, like an associate from when he was in New York City,  his law school roommate and a childhood friend.  His coworkers and friends from Baltimore generally do not.

            Contrast this with Mr. Gricar’s loved ones.  His daughter, Lara, and girlfriend, Patty Fornicola, started with the 4/18/05 press conference, and continued speaking to the press for months afterward, both print and by being interviewed on cable.  One of Mr. Gricar’s ex-wives, Barbara Gray, has been vocal, and speaks positively of him.  Generally, Tony Gricar, the family spokesman, is available for comment on breaking news; he got on to message boards for a while. Though it has had some technical problems, and it is currently down,5 the family has been maintaining a website.  Friends and co-workers, Mr. Sloane and Ms. Arnold, for example, have commented on the record.

            It was these factors, intense press coverage, coupled with a solid response by Mr. Gricar’s family and friends, that have helped keep the Gricar case in the public eye.

[This concludes the series]

1   About 5-7 months after Mr. Luna disappeared, I tried to find online discussions of the case.  I found a grand total of one site where was active discussion.

 

2   http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/anniversary-jonathan-lunas-mysterious-death-arrest/story?id=9251473

 

3 http://www.wbaltv.com/news/13763566/detail.html

4 http://www.ticklethewire.com/2009/07/09/nearly-6-years-later-fed-prosecutor-jonathan-luna-murder-victim-or-suicide/

 

5 I received an e-mail from family spokesman Tony Gricar a few weeks ago indicating that it is down due to a technical problem and that he is trying to fix it.

 

  Comments