The chief judge of the U.S. District Court yesterday turned down Watergate coconspirator G. Gordon Liddy's attempt to stop the government from collecting the profits on his writings and lectures to pay off the remainder of a $40,000 criminal fine imposed on him nine years ago.
Liddy still owes $23,812, according to court officials.
The U.S. attorney's office in Washington obtained court orders last month freezing money earned by Liddy and held by his book and lecture agents and his book publisher. Liddy has paid $16,200 toward the $40,000 fine but breached a 1980 agreement to pay off the remainder of the penalty in $5,000 installments every three months, the government said.
After a brief hearing yesterday, Chief Judge Aubrey E. Robinson Jr. ordered Brian Winthrop International, which sets up Liddy's lecture tours, and the William Morris Agency, his book and movie agent, to turn over to the government immediately $18,160 in Liddy's earnings held by them.
Of that amount, $15,460 represented lecture fees and $2,700 was payment for a forthcoming article in Playboy magazine, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Royce C. Lamberth.
Another $19,648 is being held by Liddy's book publisher, St. Martin's Press. In a separate order yesterday, Robinson said the balance of the money owed to the government -- which would now stand at about $5,000 -- should be paid from that money once the publisher figures out how much it is owed for returned books.
Yesterday, Judge Robinson rejected arguments by Liddy's attorney, Harry Diffendal, that the money held by the agents and the publisher was earnings and not assets, and that under the law that money could not be seized in its entirety by the government.
Diffendal contended that the government would only be entitled to a maximum of 25 percent of Liddy's earnings.
Robinson ruled, however, that Liddy did not have an employe-employer relationship with his agents and publisher and therefore the money could be seized in full by the government.
Diffendal told Robinson yesterday that Liddy was not trying to avoid paying his debt to the government but had huge expenses following his court cases and was paying for college educations for four of his five children.