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    Cisneros Pleads Not Guilty to Lying to FBI About Payments to Ex-Mistress

    By Toni Locy
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Friday, January 9, 1998; Page A09

    Former housing secretary Henry Cisneros pleaded not guilty yesterday to felony charges that he lied to the FBI about paying $250,000 in hush money to a former mistress.

    He is charged with a multifaceted conspiracy in which he allegedly worked frantically before, during and after his confirmation as housing secretary to keep his ex-mistress from disclosing their long relationship and the extent of payments he made to her to keep their relationship quiet. The grand jury said that Cisneros also made payments to a second woman whom the ex-mistress, Linda Medlar, knew about, and that Medlar was being paid to keep that quiet as well.

    Initially, it appeared that Cisneros and Medlar, who also is charged in the case, would not appear together in the courtroom. At the start of the arraignment, U.S. District Judge Stanley Sporkin announced that Medlar would not make her appearance until later in the day.

    But just after Cisneros and two other defendants had settled into their seats at the defense table, the courtroom door burst open. Attorney Roger Adelman, a burly former federal prosecutor, stormed into the well of the court with Medlar trailing behind him.

    Adelman launched rapid-fire into the arraignment routine, leaving Sporkin's clerk somewhat speechless. He quickly waived formal reading of the 66-page indictment and announced that his client was pleading not guilty to all charges.

    "You are always ahead of the game, Mr. Adelman," Sporkin said, chuckling.

    When Medlar joined the other defendants yesterday at the defense table, Cisneros looked directly at her, and they appeared to acknowledge each other. But she did not hold his gaze and sat at the far end of the table, leaning away from the others.

    Their trial was set for Nov. 4.

    Cisneros, 43, a former mayor of San Antonio, headed the Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1993 through 1996 and once was considered a rising star in national politics. He was indicted last month on charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and making false statements.

    Outside the courthouse, Cisneros spoke out for the first time since he was indicted, addressing reporters in English and Spanish: "I regret the pain that this matter has caused my wife, my children, my parents and my family. They are wonderful, good, loving people.

    "I care deeply about my community, and I love our country, which I've tried to serve in a number of different capacities. I came to Washington to try to do good, and I'm proud of the good we were able to do," said Cisneros, accompanied by his attorney, Brendan V. Sullivan Jr. "I have deep faith and trust in America's institutions and particularly believe in the inherent fairness of our judicial system."

    Cisneros now lives in Los Angeles, where he is president of Univision, a Spanish-language television network.

    Medlar, 45, of Lubbock, Tex., is also charged with conspiracy and making a false statement. She goes on trial Jan. 15 in Lubbock in a related case for conspiracy to commit bank fraud in connection with a house purchased in the names of her relatives with money she allegedly received from Cisneros.

    In the Lubbock case, her attorney, a public defender, has filed motions to suppress statements she made to independent counsel David M. Barrett's assistants. Her Lubbock lawyer alleges that Medlar was having serious emotional problems, and that prosecutors knew it.

    Barrett's office initially entered into a cooperation agreement with her in November 1995. But prosecutors became suspicious of her. In the Washington case, she is charged with lying to the FBI when she said she had given original tapes to the Internal Revenue Service of conversations with Cisneros she had secretly recorded.

    Because Medlar says she cannot afford to pay for an attorney, taxpayers will be paying legal fees for Adelman, who is court-appointed.

    The two other defendants in the Washington case are former Cisneros aides Sylvia Arce-Garcia, 43, of Los Angeles, and John D. Rosales, 41, of the Washington area. Arce-Garcia is charged with conspiracy. Rosales is charged with conspiracy and two counts of making false statements.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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