Former Lobbyist Pleads Guilty to Trying to Destroy Evidence

Friday, July 25, 2008 2:56 PM

A former lobbyist and close friend of former representative Curt Weldon pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court to trying to destroy evidence in the federal investigation of the Pennsylvania Republican.

Cecelia Grimes, 43, admitted that she threw out documents sought by FBI agents shortly after they visited her home in Parkesburg, Pa., in 2006 to question her. The agents served her with a grand jury subpoena demanding records connected to her clients, her travel, Weldon and his campaigns. FBI agents later recovered the documents in trash bags in front of Grimes' home, according to charging papers.

Grimes also admitted that she put her BlackBerry email device in a trash can near a fast-food restaurant to prevent FBI agents from reviewing some of her emails. The lobbyist told U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. that she threw away the device, in part, because it contained "personal emails I didn't want on the channel 6 news."

Grimes and her attorney declined to comment after the hearing in federal court in the District.

Grimes, who could face between 10 and 16 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, is cooperating with authorities, said prosecutor Howard R. Sklamberg, deputy chief of the U.S. Attorney's Office's fraud and public corruption section.

Federal agents and prosecutors are investigating Weldon's ties to lobbying and consulting firms.

-- Del Quentin Wilber

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