Rep. Claude (Buddy) Leach (D-La.) was indicted by a federal grand jury in Louisiana yesterday on charges of buying votes in both the primary and general elections that sent him to Congress this year.
Leach, 46, was accused of initiating a campaign to buy the "commercial black vote" in his hometown of Leesville. Votes in the primary cost $10 and those in the general election $5 the indictment alleged.
Leach won the seat to succeed longtime representative JoeWaggonner by 266 votes last November over Republican Jimmy Wilson. He won the primary by an even narrower margin, 169 votes.
Twin indictments charge he bought more than enough votes to make the margins of victory -- 440 in the general and 397 in the primary. Several individuals have pleaded guilty in the case, including two men to whom Leach is accused of making vote payoffs.
Leach could not be reached for comment yesterday but he has denied the vote-buying charges in earlier statements.
Opponents Wilson has asked that Leach be unseated by the House because of charges made public during the investigation.
Another Louisiana House Democrat, representative Richard A. Tonry was indicted on similar charges in 1977. He later pleaded guilty to accepting illegal campaign contributions and was sentenced to a year in prison.
Leach also was charged in the indictment with violations of the campaign finance laws to fund the alleged vote-buying scheme.
According to the indictment, 1leach allies hired driverss to pick up voters and deliver them to the polls. Each voter was given a slip of paper telling him how to vote and after leaving the polls was driven to a nearby home. There his name would be checked off a list and he would be paid in cash, the charges said.
The mayor of Leesville and the town marshal have been convicted in the case. Yesterday's indictment also included charges against a state district judge, a state district attorney and two assistants, a U.S. magistrate and three others.
J. Randall Keene, the U.S. attorney in Shreveport., said the investigation is continuing. Leach, if convicted faces up to five years ub prison and a $10,000 fine on the conspiracy and vote-buying charges and a year in prison and a $25,000 fine on the alleged campaign financed violations.
The indictment alleges 14 specifies instances of vote buying. CAPTION: Picture, Rep. Claude Leach