An attorney for perennial right-wing presidential candidate Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. said in federal court in Alexandria yesterday that his client is virtually penniless and is unable to pay NBC television the $3 million judgment levied against him last month.
LaRouche, in a sworn statement filed in the Loudoun County Courthouse Monday, said that his assets total $5,000 and consist of $3,700 in cash, three guns, some record albums and other personal items.
U.S. District Court Judge James C. Cacheris denied a motion by Karl W. Pilger, LaRouche's Washington attorney, to stop NBC's attempts to collect the judgment, pending consideration of LaRouche's request that the verdict be overturned or a new trial set.
A federal jury in Alexandria awarded the $3,002,000 to NBC after rejecting a $150 million libel suit that LaRouche filed against the network because of broadcasts characterizing him as the extremist leader of a "political cult."
NBC attorney Peter K. Stackhouse said that the network is not certain what its next step will be, but that it might launch an investigation to determine whether LaRouche is "penniless or whether or not he is as wealthy as his life style suggests.
"If LaRouche is so tightly entwined with these other political organizations that enable him to live on a multimillion-dollar estate and travel with an entourage of eight people wherever he goes . . . then somebody's got money," Stackhouse said. "We've got a right to find out who's got it."
Cacheris refused yesterday to stop NBC's collection efforts unless LaRouche posts a surety bond for $3 million. To post a surety bond, a party usually pays a bonding company 10 percent of the amount of the bond, and sometimes pledges other property.
The bonding company pledges its credit to back the entire amount of the bond.
Outside the courtroom yesterday, Pilger said that LaRouche would not be able to post the bond because he lacks assets.
"If he is so penniless, then he shouldn't be so concerned about the collection activities," Stackhouse said, referring to LaRouche's motion to stop the effort to collect the award.
LaRouche, who lives on a heavily guarded estate in rural Loudoun County, testified during the two-week trial that he has had no income and paid no income tax for the past 12 years.
LaRouche said on the stand that he does not know who pays for his food, clothing, travel and housing expenses.
In sworn depositions before the trial, LaRouche said that he had virtually no assets except for $2,000 in undeposited checks from his parents' estate, and that he has been carrying the same $20 in his billfold for years.
On Nov. 1, the three-man, three-woman jury found that NBC had not libeled LaRouche in two broadcasts this year that said LaRouche's associates have tried to intimidate reporters and engage in "a kind of political nastiness that hasn't been seen in America in some time."
The jury ruled in favor of an NBC countersuit that alleged that LaRouche followers tried to sabotage a scheduled NBC interview with Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan (D-N.Y.) by impersonating network reporters and a Senate aide.
During yesterday's brief hearing in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Stackhouse argued that if LaRouche's motion to stop NBC's collection effort was granted, LaRouche might try to transfer or dissipate his assets during the course of the appeals process.
In depositions this year, LaRouche said he has no financial interest in any of the businesses or other entities in which his political associates take part, and has no knowledge of their financial dealings. Stackhouse said NBC "may well" start an investigation of the relationship between LaRouche and organizations in his orbit.
Cacheris is expected to rule early next year on LaRouche's request to have a new trial or to overturn the verdict. CAPTION: Picture, Lyndon H. LaRouche filed the homestead deed, listing assets as $5,000.