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Restoration of Charge Against Hubbell Urged

Associated Press
Saturday, May 22, 1999; Page A10

Urging the reinstatement of a criminal charge against Webster L. Hubbell, independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's office argued in federal appeals court yesterday that the indictment details dozens of alleged lies by the presidential friend.

In throwing out one of 15 charges against Hubbell, a judge had declared that some language in the indictment was too vague. Hubbell is accused of concealing from federal banking regulators work that he and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton had done for a fraudulent Arkansas land development when both were attorneys in Little Rock.

Prosecutor Paul Rosenzweig argued before a three-judge panel that Hubbell repeatedly lied over a six-year span to federal regulators, saying that amounted to a "scheme, a pattern of conduct" that is spelled out in the first 85 paragraphs of the indictment against Clinton's former law partner.

Defense lawyer Peter Romatowski said the language in the dismissed charge is so broadly worded that Hubbell does not know what the specific allegations are.

"How is a jury to be instructed? . . . Are they to be turned loose on 85 paragraphs?" asked Romatowski.

Appeals Judge Stephen Williams, a Republican appointee, suggested that the dropped count may be so lengthy because of extensive evidence of wrongdoing by Hubbell.

"Why is it the government's fault if evidence suggests 1,000" acts "by which the scheme has been carried out?" asked Williams.

Challenged to counter the argument that the indictment was too vague, Rosenzweig pointed to language that details 50 separate alleged lies by Hubbell to the Resolution Trust Corp. and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Williams heard the arguments along with appeals court Judges Laurence Silberman, a Republican appointee, and David Tatel, a Clinton appointee.

Hubbell is scheduled to go on trial Aug. 9.

In a related case, Hubbell pleaded guilty in 1994 to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his law firm and its clients. He served 18 months in prison.

Clinton has testified repeatedly that she remembers almost nothing of her work on the Castle Grande development, which was owned by her Whitewater partner James B. McDougal and Hubbell's father-in-law, Seth Ward.

Regulators said the development was riddled with insider dealing and fictitious sales.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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