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The FBI gave U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan and Terrorism Unit chief Dennis Nerney a present Friday — James William Kilgore, the former Symbionese Liberation Army member and longtime international fugitive. Kilgore was arrested at his home in Cape Town, South Africa, last week based on a 1976 grand jury indictment in connection with the Patty Hearst kidnapping case. As a junior prosecutor, Nerney himself secured the indictment when authorities found a pipe bomb at Kilgore’s Daly City home. “He will now have the opportunity to complete the prosecution he began nearly three decades ago,” Ryan said at a press conference Friday at FBI offices in San Francisco. Kilgore was living in Cape Town under the name Charles William Pape, said Mark Mershon, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Francisco field office. He lived there with his wife and two children, teaching English at the University of Cape Town. The day before Kilgore was arrested, four former members of the SLA pleaded guilty to second-degree murder charges in the 1975 shooting death of Myrna Lee Opsahl during a bank robbery in Carmichael, near Sacramento. Kilgore is also wanted in Sacramento County on murder charges in the bank heist. Friday, Ryan denied there was a link between the plea bargain and Kilgore’s arrest. “Life is full of coincidences,” Ryan said. Those four — Sarah Jane Olson (formerly Kathleen Soliah), William Harris, Emily Montague and Michael Bortin — were arrested early this year in connection with Opsahl’s shooting death during the Carmichael bank robbery. They were arrested two days before Olson was sentenced Jan. 18 for the attempted bombing of two police cars. Ryan stressed that the arrest was “not the result, nor in any way related to,” the plea bargains reached Thursday. The FBI said a break in the case came roughly two weeks ago, though it declined to be specific. “I will tell you, generically, that it’s a rare occasion that a defendant cuts off entirely his ties to his past,” Mershon said, implying that someone in Kilgore’s past may have played a role — perhaps inadvertently — in his capture. He added that no one will likely be in line for the $20,000 authorities offered for Kilgore’s capture. A spokeswoman for the Sacramento district attorney’s office said she did not know how the federal prosecution would affect the timing or prosecution of the murder case. “I don’t know how they’ll do that. That’ll have to be worked out,” Lana Wyant said. The FBI told her Kilgore’s initial appearance will be in San Francisco federal court, she added. Both agencies said they were not working together to find Kilgore. “I can assure you that I have not had any contact with the district attorney in Sacramento,” Ryan said. “We’re not working in tandem with them.” The bomb charge carries a sentence of up to 10 years. Mershon said the FBI had indications “for years” that Kilgore was somewhere on the African continent. It is not known whether his wife and children knew of his past, but Mershon said Pape did admit to being Kilgore when contacted by police. Montague’s attorney, Stuart Hanlon, said he had been acting as a go-between for a New York lawyer Kilgore retained to negotiate his return to the U.S. Hanlon said he believes a six-year plea deal for Kilgore on the Opsahl killing still stands. Hanlon declined to name the New York lawyer. He also believes Kilgore would waive extradition proceedings. “My understanding is he will, but I am not his lawyer,” Hanlon said. Both Ryan and the Sacramento County DA’s office said they did not have any contact with Kilgore or any representative of his about a surrender. “He was not in touch with us,” Wyant said. The timing of the arrest was met with alarm by defense attorneys like Hanlon who had been in contact recently with Kilgore’s New York lawyer. Hanlon was concerned that the government used wiretaps to locate Kilgore, including his office phone. He was reassured when told that authorities denied they did such a thing. “I believe Kevin Ryan,” Hanlon said. “Kevin Ryan’s honest.” Nerney was part of the original prosecution team when newspaper heiress Patty Hearst was sent to prison by then-Northern District Chief Judge Oliver Carter for robbing Hibernia Bank in San Francisco. Hearst had been kidnapped by the SLA but later joined the radical group, causing a national sensation when she was caught on a surveillance tape toting a rifle during the robbery. Hearst’s sentence was commuted by President Jimmy Carter. She was pardoned by President Bill Clinton.

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