By R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 1, 2006
The director of a defense contractor's office in Martinsville, Va., was accused yesterday of illegally funneling campaign donations to Rep. Virgil H. Goode Jr. (R-Va.), an act that the contractor has said was meant to obtain Goode's help in arranging defense funding for his company.
A federal court filing by the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Kenneth L. Wainstein, said that Richard A. Berglund, a facility manager for MZM Inc., had violated the Federal Election Campaign Act by "aiding and abetting" a scheme by MZM's owner to donate the funds in the name of others.
According to the filing, Berglund and his wife wrote $4,000 in checks to "Representative A" in March 2005 after MZM's owner, Mitchell J. Wade, handed Berglund an equivalent amount of cash. It says that Berglund gave another $4,000 he received from Wade to two MZM colleagues, who in turn donated it to the congressman.
Federal Election Commission records -- which describe Berglund as a retired lieutenant colonel -- show that he and his wife gave that amount to Goode that month. He made no other donations to lawmakers that year.
Goode's office said in a statement that he is Representative A, but the lawmaker was unaware that the Berglund donations were illegal "straw" contributions. Wade, who sold MZM last summer, pleaded guilty in February to making a total of $38,000 in illegal "straw" contributions to the lawmaker in 2003 and 2005 through his employees and their spouses.
Wade targeted Goode, according to Wade's plea agreement, because Wade wanted to open an office in Goode's district and believed that Goode "had the ability to request appropriations funding for this facility and would be an advocate for funding for MZM." The plea stated that Wade did not inform Goode or his staff that the donations were illegal.
Wade handed the checks directly to "Representative A" at a March 2005 fundraising event, according to the court document filed yesterday. That was around the time that Wade requested Goode's help in earmarking funds for the facility, according to Wade's plea agreement.
In June 2005, Goode's staff "confirmed to Wade that an appropriations bill would contain $9 million for the facility and a related program. Wade thanked Representative A and his staff for their assistance," according to the plea agreement.
The document naming Berglund is typically used to state facts alleging wrongdoing by someone cooperating in an investigation. Berglund's listed phone is disconnected, and his attorney could not be reached for comment yesterday.