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Minister lied about Condit, FBI says

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WASHINGTON — There is no truth to a minister's claim that his daughter had an affair with Rep. Gary Condit when she was 18, the FBI has concluded.

Otis "O.C." Thomas, a Pentecostal minister in Condit's hometown of Ceres, Calif., told the story to the FBI in May, then recanted it two weeks ago.

"We've concluded that the allegations made by O.C. Thomas are unfounded," FBI spokesman Chris Murray said Tuesday.

Thomas acknowledged in an interview Sunday with The Washington Post that he had made up the story. The fabrication began in April, when Susan Levy told him that her daughter, Chandra, was having an affair with an older man now believed to have been Condit. Thomas worked as a gardener for the Levy family.

"I just figured I would try to comfort her a bit," Thomas said. "I just dug a hole I could not get out of. I can't really explain something like that."

Meantime, Washington's deputy police chief, Terrance Gainer, said Monday that Condit is not the central figure in the investigation of Chandra Levy's disappearance and is unlikely to be called to take a lie detector test.

Condit, D-Calif., already has submitted to a lie detector test administered by a privately hired expert, and his attorneys said the machine found no indication he had lied. Police previously said they might want to administer their own test.

"I don't think that's going to happen," Gainer told CNN on Monday. "We talked about doing that before. ... I think we're really past the polygraph stage."

In the private lie detector test, Condit denied any knowledge or involvement in Levy's disappearance. He has told police he had had an affair with the former Bureau of Prisons intern, according to a police source.

Gainer said despite four police interviews with Condit, neither the lawmaker nor his wife is a focus of the investigation.

"I really think it's important to point out that the congressman, although interesting to a lot of people, is not the central figure in this, nor is his wife," he said.

Levy, 24, of Modesto, Calif., disappeared May 1. Police repeatedly have said Condit is not a suspect in her disappearance.

In another development, an aide to Condit lodged a complaint with police Monday alleging a news photographer made contact with the congressman as he went to a waiting car.

The complaint involved free-lance photographer Stephen Boitano, who was on assignment for The Associated Press at the time of the Monday afternoon incident.

John Hall, AP assistant chief of bureau for photos in Washington, said, "Stephen was taking pictures outside the congressman's apartment Monday afternoon when the two men brushed arms in a narrow space between cars — it was totally inadvertent."

Condit then pushed at Boitano before leaving in the car, Hall said.

Television cameras, photographers and reporters have regularly gathered outside Condit's apartment since the congressman was interviewed by police.