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Escapee's lawyer keeps railing at phone monitor

A week after it started, a spat between the Citrus County Sheriff's Office and a local criminal defense lawyer continued Tuesday with more finger pointing and allegations.

Attorney Charles Vaughn continued to insist that sheriff's investigators improperly and perhaps illegally monitored the origin of his incoming telephone calls for five hours last week.

Sheriff's officials continued to deny asking for any such move, called a "trap and trace." Rather, they said, they merely subpoenaed Vaughn's toll records.

State Attorney Brad King says miscommunication may be the real culprit.

In an attempt to bolster his claim, Vaughn on Tuesday showed off a letter from a United Telephone official. In the letter, the official recalls which investigator requested the "trap and trace" and remembers when the request came in.

In addition, United spokesman Larry Bush noted that the subpoena for phone records came in after Vaughn complained about the "trap and trace" on his line. Vaughn said that leads him to wonder whether the subpoena was a coverup.

"We have documentation to prove that they did" request a "trap and trace," Bush said.

King worked with sheriff's investigators and said they clearly intended to subpoena Vaughn's telephone records, not monitor the source of his calls. The chief prosecutor said a telephone company official may have misunderstood what a sheriff's investigator asked for during a telephone conversation.

The trouble started during a touchy negotiation designed to persuade Vaughn's client, Joseph Provost, to surrender.

Provost was one of five men who escaped from the Citrus County Jail on Feb. 17. He fled the state, and Vaughn was trying to persuade him to return to Citrus County.

Provost eventually surrendered Sunday in Escambia County. However, before that, United Telephone started on Vaughn's line a "trap and trace." The process would allow officials to see where callers to his office were when they called.

United Telephone's regional security manager, Mike Kilgallon, wrote in a letter that sheriff's Sgt. Pat Harrison made the request at 10 a.m. Feb. 23. A United Telephone worker called Vaughn's office about 3:30 that day, and Vaughn ordered the "trap and trace" removed.

Under state law, the telephone company needs a court order before it may place a "trap and trace" on a telephone line. No court order is necessary if the monitoring is necessary to investigate misuse of the telephone lines, or if the subscriber consents.

Vaughn never consented and there was no court order. Vaughn has notified the Sheriff's Office that he intends to sue the agency over the trap and trace question.

King and the Sheriff's Office said investigators asked only for expedited copies of Vaughn's toll charges _ the list of telephone numbers and locations from which callers called Vaughn's office and charged the call to the lawyer's line.

The processes are similar. With a trap and trace, officials could monitor long distance and local calls, although not all calls could be traced; the toll records show only long distance charges, but its list is complete and accurate.