Investigators ask DA to reopen LANL director’s death case

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Request > The request said they want to clean house, help ensure lab is properly managed

By Tris DeRoma

Three people with past connections to the Los Alamos National Laboratory are urging that the U.S. District Attorney’s Office reopen an investigation into the death of Richard Burick, a former deputy director at the lab. 

Burick died in January 2003 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to Los Alamos County police. He was found near his truck at the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area parking lot. 

The three people who have requested the reopening of the case, Charles Montaño, Glenn Walp and Steve Doran, sent a formal letter to Damon Martinez, U.S. Attorney for the New Mexico District. The letter was dated Feb. 2. 

“Our concern is that a full and complete investigation is needed in order to clean house and help ensure that one of the premier nuclear weapons labs long plagued by scandal is properly managed in the future, free of any possible reoccurrence of fraud and corruption,” the letter read.

The three also mentioned in the letter that the reason why they decided to contact Martinez is because he is also the chairman of the National Lab/Research University Working Group for U.S. Attorneys.

“We the undersigned, respectfully request that you investigate the questionable suicide in 2002 (sic) 3 of Richard Burick, former deputy director of the Los Alamos Laboratory (LANL) and also conclude contemporaneous investigations into procurement fraud at the lab that could be related to Burick’s untimely death.”

In the letter, two of the men, Walp and Doran, introduced themselves as former investigators Los Alamos National Laboratory hired in the early 2000s to investigate what they said was corruption and mismanagement at the lab. Montano described himself in the letter as an auditor and an investigator who worked at the lab for 32 years.

Walp and Duran also claimed their investigations were cut short when they were fired “without cause” during their investigations. Montaño was also described in the letter as a “federally-protected whistleblower,”  “after reporting accounting malpractice and abuses that he had witnessed for years, and for which lab management retaliated against him.”

Montaño and Walp have also written extensively on the problems at LANL that occurred in the early 2000s. 

Montano recently came out with a book titled “Los Alamos: Secret Colony Hidden Truths” and Walp’s wrote a book titled “Implosion at Los Alamos.”

The men want the investigation reopened because of recent events affecting the lab, which include the upcoming rebid of LANL’s management contract in 2017 and a recent article on a government watch site detailing the timeline and events that led up to Burick’s death. 


When contacted for a reaction to the letter, LANL Spokesperson Kevin Roark said the laboratory would not be issuing any statements concerning the request for an investigation submitted by Montaño, Walp and Duran.