Rep. Daniel J. Flood took bribes from a New York rabbi who sought his help in obtaining federal funds to assist Soviet Jews, Flood's former administrative aide testified yesterday.
"'I like that fellow,'" Flood was reported to have said to his administrative aide on one occasion as the congressman pocketed 15 hundred-dollar bills from Rabbi Lieb Pinter. "'Just follow his projects closely,'" Flood instructed Stephen B. Elko, who recounted the incident in Flood's trial in U.S. District Court here.
The Pennsylvania Democrat also took thousands of dollars in payoffs and promises of as much as $100,000 from a Pennsylvania developer seeking Flood's intervention with a federal agoncy, Elk/ testified.
In both instances, some of the money was disguised either as legitimate campaign contributions or honoraria, Elko said, and the rest of it was in cash.
Flood is charged with 11 counts of bribery, conspiracy and perjury in connection with these allegations and other payoff counts. Elko, who has already been convicted on related charges, tesified under a grant of immunity.
The allegations detailed yesterday by Elko followed the same pattern as those he made Tuesday pertaining to payoffs to Flood from Dr. Murdock Head, president of the Airlie Foundation in Warrenton, Va.
According to testimony, the favorseeker would approach Elko because his boss, Flood, was chairman of a House Appropriations subcommittee that handled budgets for the agency in question or simply because he was a constituent. Elko would screen the request, contact the federal agency and take the money, delivering it to Flood.
By Elko's recollection, however, Flood seems to have been more demanding with Rabbi Pinter and the developer than he was with the Airlie Foundation.
Flood reportedly told Elko to "'get all you can while you can get it'" from the rabbi.
And after learning that millions of federal dollars might be easily available to the Pennsylvania developer who had promised him up to $50,000, Elko testified, Flood told Elko to go back and "'double that figure.'" Flood never collected the full amount, Flood said, because the federal financing fell through.
Flood ultimately received $3,000 in "campaign contributions" and $2,000 cash from Robert Gennaro, the developer of the Crestwood Hills housing project in Hazleton, Pa., Elko testified.
In return for the money, Elko said, he and Flood intervened through letters and phone calls with the federal agencies involved -- the Farmers Home Administration and the Department of Labor, respectively.
Pinter has pleaded guilty to paying the bribes and is now serving a prison term.
According to Elko, Pinter told him in the spring of 1974 that he needed Flood's assistance for several of his social welfare projects, including a manpower training program for recent Soviet Jewish immigrants. The Department of Labor, which must screen its spending through Flood's subcommittee, hands out manpower training funds.
"'I want to do business with you,'" Elko recalled the rabbi saying, where-upon he reached into a briefcase and "handed me $2,000 in hundred-dollar bills and told me to give it to Mr. Flood."
Elko said he gave the money to Flood, who "looded at me quizzically."
"I said to him: 'Isn't that enough?' He said, 'Get all you can while you can get it.'"
Flood helped draft a "Dear Pete" letter to then-Secretary of Labor Peter Brennan on behalf of Pinter's grant request. "This is near and dear to my heart," the letter said.
Pinter made several payoffs afterward, sometimes in cash and sometimes in checks for the Flood campaign committee, Elko said. At Elko's suggestion, the campaign money was made to appear to have come from a number of different individuals so it would not be noticed on campaign finance reports, he testified.
In May 1975, with Pinter's Labor Department grant on the verge of approval, Elko suggested to him that "we agree on one nut, one figure that would cover everything. We agreed on $5,000," Elko testified.
It was agreed that some of that money would be paid to Flood at a dinner planned by Rabbi Pinter where the congressman would be an "honored guest," Elko said. "It's a perfect opportunity to give the congressman an honorarium," Elko said he told Pinter.
The total payment from Pinter to Flood ultimately totalled $7,000, according to Elko's figures.
Defense lawyers began their crossexamination of Elko yesterday, showing in the process that Elko deposited thousands of dollars in cash into his own account around the time in 1970-1974 that Dr. Head, the Airlie Foundation president, was allegedly paying off Flood.
Flood's lawyers have said that the congressman never received any of the bribe money and that Elko, operating on his own, pocketed it.