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WACO PROBE STILL OPEN, JUSTICE OFFICIAL SAYS

The Justice Department is "a month or two" away from concluding its inquiry into whether leaders of the raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, lied to federal investigators, according to a department official.

The official said the investigation was kept open to see what Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms officials Phillip Chojnacki and Chuck Sarabyn would tell congressional subcommittees investigating the 1993 raid.The Waco Tribune-Herald quoted an unidentified federal official as saying Justice was examining whether testimony by Choj-nacki and Sarabyn at last month's House hearings conflicted with statements they gave to the Texas Rangers two years ago. The Rangers were sworn in as special assistant U.S. marshals to conduct the post-raid review. Making false statements to federal officers is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.

Justice spokesman Carl Stern would not discuss specifics of the probe. But, since the department hasn't announced completion of an investigation "you can conclude that it's open," he said.

Chojnacki and Sarabyn were fired after independent reviews of the initial raid and rehired last year in a settlement with ATF providing full back pay and benefits.

Chojnacki, who is now ATF's liaison with the Customs Service in Houston, did not return messages left Tuesday.

The two have provided conflicting stories about whether they were notified by an undercover agent that Koresh was aware a raid was imminent and whether they had been told to abort the attack if the element of surprise was lost.