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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Drew's wired friends lie low

July 24, 2008

Herald News

Paula Stark stood on a neighbor's stoop Wednesday and smoked a cigarette as she watched photographers and reporters staking out her home down the street.

She and her husband, Len Wawczak, were the next big thing in the Drew Peterson story, and she was feeling overwhelmed.

"I'm exhausted," Stark said.

Her cell phone rang repeatedly with calls from television news producers. She hadn't found time to eat since Tuesday morning. Wawczak was elsewhere -- possibly fishing with a friend -- to avoid the media throng outside their home.

The couple were under siege because they went public about wearing a wire for the State Police to record their former friend, ex-cop Peterson, whose fourth wife has been missing since October and whose third wife was the victim of a March 2004 homicide that remains unsolved.
Stark and Wawczak, friends of Peterson for about 16 years, claim they recorded conversations with Peterson for nearly seven months in an undercover operation that ended in mid-June.

Peterson: They're just bitter
They said he mocked investigators as "idiots," called his third wife, Kathleen Savio, "a bitch" whose body he should have had cremated and predicted he'd be tried and acquitted long before the remains of his fourth wife, Stacy, were found.

As far as Peterson is concerned, Stark and Wawczak are just bitter because he refused to lend them a large sum of money about a month ago. It was the last time he saw the husband and wife who regularly watched his two young children after Stacy disappeared.
Stark and Wawczak are just looking to cash in on his misery and were sniffing around for money long before this, Peterson said Wednesday.

For example, Peterson said, after he returned from New York for an appearance on the "Today" show, he autographed a baseball cap for the couple. Stark's mother put it up for sale on eBay with a starting price of $10,000.

"And on top of that, I caught Paula in my bedroom taking pictures," Peterson said. "So I have more friends taking advantage of my anguish."

And before all this, Peterson said he was free with his money, even lending Stark $400 on one occasion.

"She did that behind Lenny's back," Peterson said.

Stark denied borrowing money and said she and her husband always had to foot the bill when she took Peterson's children on outings. Her mother did put the cap on eBay, Stark said, but the plan was to donate the money to the volunteer search effort to find Stacy. They never got the chance, as the Web site shut down the auction.

Lawyer calls couple liars

Inside her neighbor's home, Paula holed up in the basement and watched Peterson's attorney Joel Brodsky on television. Brodsky essentially called Stark and Wawczak liars who were looking to make a buck. Stark and her neighbor were not that interested in what Brodsky had to say and later changed the channel to the sitcom "Home Improvement."

For all the attention, Stark said she and her husband weren't making any money.

"They'll fly me out there [to New York] for interviews," she said. "But that's it."

In a statement released by Peterson's publicist, Brodsky said Stark and Wawczak broke the law if their claims about wearing a wire were true.

"If Drew had made any incriminating statement to Wawczak and Stark when they were supposedly undercover agents, today's news would include their arrest for obstruction of justice," Brodsky said. "The police would never allow the disclosure of any such information in an ongoing investigation. The fact is that Drew never made any of the statements Wawczak and Stark attribute to him, period.

"Secondly, the reason Wawczak and Stark [are] talking now can be attributed to the fact that they are about to be evicted from their home, and they are in a dire economic situation."
Stark said she spoke to State Police on Wednesday morning, and the investigators laughed at what Brodsky and Peterson had to say.

Peterson also called Wawczak's character into question, saying his old friend often ran afoul of the law. "I used to arrest Lenny on a regular basis for drunk and disorderly s - - -," he said. Wawczak has been arrested over the years by Bolingbrook police.

Stark wasn't surprised by Peterson's comments, saying he has smeared others.

"It's the same with everyone who goes against him," she said. "They're all losing their house, they all need money."

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