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Anatomy Of a Plot
E.M. Swift
February 14, 1994
Even in their version of events—which differs from Tonya Harding's—the confessed conspirators in the Nancy Kerrigan assault were at once goons and buffoons
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February 14, 1994

Anatomy Of A Plot

Even in their version of events—which differs from Tonya Harding's—the confessed conspirators in the Nancy Kerrigan assault were at once goons and buffoons

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Gillooly knocked on the office door, and a man he later learned was Stant let him in. Stant was wearing a baggy black Australian-outback coat, a hat and black fingerless gloves. Eckardt introduced Gillooly to Derrick, using only his first name. I le introduced Stant by saying simply. "This is his friend."

"It's a pleasure," Stant said. Then he clammed up.

Derrick told Gillooly he was the type of guy who solved other people's problems. Eckardt asked Gillooly if he'd brought the information on Kerrigan, and Gillooly put the material on the desk. Eckardt looked at the picture of Kerrigan and remarked, "She's good-looking."

Gillooly told the other men that if Harding could get to the Olympics and win, she would have endorsements and a truck-load of money. Because of that, Gillooly would be able to offer $1,000 a week to provide security for Harding. To qualify for the Olympics, however, she had to do well at the nationals. Kerrigan was the primary obstacle.

They discussed various ways of disabling Kerrigan. Smith and Stant told the FBI that Eckardt again suggested cutting an Achilles tendon, but everyone else opposed that idea. Eckardt then floated the suggestion of buying a "beater" ear in Boston and running Kerrigan off the road. "A couple of broken ribs should do it," he figured. That, too, was nixed. Gillooly then explained to the others that Kerrigan's right leg was her landing leg—he said he'd verified that the day before with Harding—and that was the leg to be disabled. Derrick told him he had a guy in mind who was a martial-arts expert. He could break Kerrigan's right leg with "a short kick to the long bone."

In their FBI interviews Gillooly and Stant quoted Eckardt as asking, "Wouldn't it be easier to just kill her?" Gillooly and Smith replied that they weren't going to get into that and ignored Eckardt while he fantasized about where he could position a sniper with a rifle. It was settled, then. Someone would break Kerrigan's right leg. It was also determined that a note would be left at the scene of the attack, so it would look like a psychotic was stalking all the top skaters. All the better for the bodyguard business.

When the talk turned to money, a figure of $6,000 for expenses was mentioned, with $2,000 up front. Eckardt assured Gillooly that if his henchmen couldn't disable Kerrigan before the nationals, Gillooly would get his $2,000 back. They were offering a money-back guarantee. Smith joked that they could always raise that money by selling Eckardt's computer and Rolex.

Gillooly then said he had been unable to find Kerrigan's home address but that she trained at Tony Kent Arena. He said he would find out the times that Kerrigan would be on the ice and get back to Eckardt later in the day. As they were preparing to leave, Derrick wanted Gillooly's word that if things worked out, he would "open doors" for him to provide bodyguarding contracts for other figure skaters and make important contacts. "Like George Steinbrenner," Eckardt said, referring to the New York Yankee owner, who's also a U.S. Olympic official and a recent sponsor of Harding's. Gillooly assured Derrick that he would do everything he could to help. Stant shook Gillooly's hand as they left and spoke for the second time in the half-hour meeting. "It was a pleasure," said Stant.

"Those guys are great," Eckardt said after he'd ushered Smith and Stant out. He asked what Gillooly thought. Gillooly said it sounded O.K. to him, but he would have to check with Harding and would get back to him later. Not too long. Eckardt said, and asked how much money Gillooly would be able to come up with. Gillooly told him that $2,000 would be it.

Harding was waiting at Gillooly's mother's house. He called and asked her to pick him up. About 15 minutes later Harding pulled up in the truck. "We're going to make a lot of money, we're going to make a lot of money," Eckardt said, enveloping Gillooly in a blubbery goodbye hug.

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