SANTA FE, N.M. – A Los Alamos lab (search) whistleblower scheduled to testify before Congress was lured to a bar and then badly beaten in an attack apparently designed to keep him quiet, his wife and lawyer said.
Tommy Hook (search) suffered a fractured jaw and other injuries in the attack early Sunday, his wife, Susan Hook, said Monday. He was in satisfactory condition Tuesday at St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe, said hospital spokesman Don Butterfield.
She said the assailants told her husband, "if you know what's good for you, you'll keep your mouth shut."
Tommy Hook has a pending lawsuit against the University of California alleging whistleblower retaliation. He had been scheduled to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee (search) later this month about alleged financial irregularities at the nuclear weapons lab.
Police and the FBI said they were investigating.
According to Hook's wife, the 52-year-old lab employee got a telephone call from someone late Saturday night — after he was already in bed — wanting to meet with him at a Santa Fe bar about 45 minutes from their home.
She said her husband told her the man never showed up, but as he was leaving the topless bar's parking lot, a group of men pulled him from his car and beat him.
"They left him in the parking lot for dead," Hook's lawyer, Robert Rothstein, said Monday at a news conference where pictures of Hook's bruised, bloodied and swollen face were passed around.
His wife, who sobbed when the pictures were distributed, said the attackers "beat him up with their feet first, 'cause he has shoe marks on his face, and then used their fists."
Rothstein said the assailants didn't take Hook's wallet, other personal belongings or his car. In the absence of any other motive, it appears the beating was related to his whistleblowing, Rothstein contended.
"It is clear to us that this was a message," Susan Hook said.
She said her husband had been told last week by a friend about someone who had information about the lab. A planned meeting with that informant on Friday never materialized, and Hook believed that's who he was going to meet on Saturday, she said.
Susan Hook, who was in Albuquerque visiting their grown sons when the incident happened, said her husband did not frequent bars and she believed his account of the attack. The assailants did not specifically mention the lab, she also said.
Lab spokesman Kevin Roark said the beating of Hook — who works in the Prime Contract Office, an internal oversight group — was "a senseless and brutal act and should not be tolerated."
The university and the lab are "outraged" about the assault, according to a statement released by the lab.
Hook and another whistleblower, Chuck Montano, sued the university in March, alleging that after they uncovered management failures, university and lab managers tried to make their jobs miserable so they would quit.
Hook had been voicing complains about lab management for years. He testified in a 1997 deposition that the chief of the lab's audit division "didn't want to see certain things put in reports," including "unallowable costs" and "embarrassment to the university."