Tate Defense Plans to Call Plowman As Witness

By Jonathan Mummolo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 19, 2007

The attorney for former state Senate candidate Mark D. Tate in a campaign fraud case is planning to call Loudoun County Commonwealth's Attorney James E. Plowman as a witness, according to a recent defense motion.

The special prosecutor in the case, meanwhile, filed court papers last week accusing Tate of filing more than 250 false campaign finance entries and accepting reimbursement for false loans to his campaign.

Tate, a restaurateur and former Middleburg Town Council member, was indicted May 21 on two counts of election fraud and nine counts of perjury over charges that he filed false financial reports during his 2003 and 2007 state Senate campaigns.

His attorney, Edward B. MacMahon Jr., filed a motion of discovery Aug. 7 asking for the release of any communications between Plowman's office and the Republican Party of Virginia; between Plowman and Tate's political opponents; and between Plowman and members of the news media.

MacMahon also said in the motion that "the defense intends to call Mr. Plowman as a witness."

The motion is the latest in a series of attempts by MacMahon to show that Tate's indictment, announced three weeks before the June 12 Republican primary, was politically motivated. Plowman -- a supporter of Jill Holtzman Vogel, who defeated Tate in the primary -- began the formal investigation of Tate but recused himself in April and handed the case over to special prosecutor Matthew J. Britton.

MacMahon had argued last month that the indictment against Tate should be dismissed because the allegations were not specific enough. Loudoun Circuit Court Judge Burke F. McCahill rejected that motion but ordered Britton to file the bill of particulars.

In the bill of particulars filed last week, Britton accuses Tate of "accepting money for his campaigns and depositing the same in his personal bank account(s) and failing to report such to the State Board of Elections; misrepresenting the dates, people and amounts of campaign donations; falsely declaring campaign balances; and falsely claiming that he had made loans to his campaign and then paying himself back for those false loans" in both campaigns.

MacMahon said in an interview last week that the prosecution still has not been specific enough in the charges against his client.

"I don't understand it," he said of the bill of particulars. "The charge is no more clear today than it was then. . . . I'm going to have to ask the judge to make him be specific again."

MacMahon argued in his Aug. 7 motion that the prosecution would have to prove that Tate "made a willfully false statement or entry in 'any statement, form or report,' " to convict him of election fraud under Virginia law. MacMahon also stated that Tate made "hundreds and perhaps thousands of entries . . . that are entirely correct" in his finance reports.

Britton has repeatedly sought to have MacMahon removed from the case so that he can call the lawyer, who made donations to Tate's campaigns, to the witness stand.

Tate's trial is scheduled for the last week in November. He faces a fine or a prison term if convicted.

Britton did not return a phone message left at his office for comment. Plowman's office said he was out of town and could not be reached.

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