U.S. District Court Judge Gerhart A. Gesell yesterday postponed until next Tuesday the sentencing of C. McClain Haddow, former chief of staff of the Department of Health and Human Services, on felony conflict-of-interest charges related to more than $55,000 in kickbacks he received through government speech-writing contracts and a charitable foundation he helped create.

Haddow, 37, who faces up to four years in prison and $500,000 in fines, pleaded guilty to the two counts in July after federal prosecutors agreed to drop five related fraud charges. Haddow is a former Utah state representative and one-time aide and campaign director for Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah).

Gesell postponed the sentencing after Haddow's lawyer filed an 80-page brief yesterday morning stating that some of Haddow's problems may have arisen from the climate of "confusion, duplicated efforts, missed deadlines and general chaos" that surrounded the operations of his former boss, HHS Secretary Margaret Heckler, who is now U.S. ambassador to Ireland.

Heckler was scheduled to testify if the Haddow case had gone to trial.

The brief, filed by attorney Brian Gittings, described Heckler's behavior as "bordering on extreme paranoia" and said that during her divorce proceedings she developed an "extreme reliance" on Haddow for personal and professional matters and believed that certain other staff members were leaking information to her husband, John.

Prosecutors have said Haddow and his wife, Alice, pocketed $21,790 of $25,330 paid under federal contracts for a friend to write speeches for Heckler.

Yesterday's brief claimed that Heckler regularly rejected her staff's speech-writing efforts and required her staff to stay for "revision sessions {that} would very often begin in late afternoon or early evening and go late into the evening . . . . Sometimes they would last all night."

Haddow said his wife became involved in the process after one such night when she made some suggestions that Heckler liked. The brief said Heckler "directed that Alice write some of her speeches" but was "concerned with the appearance" of Alice Haddow being hired as an HHS consultant and urged Haddow to have his wife join a local public relations firm that could be given the contracts.

Haddow then arranged for a friend to hire his wife so she could receive the speech-writing contracts.

In his plea agreement, Haddow also admitted receiving $33,540 in kickbacks from the nonprofit T. Bear Foundation Inc. Haddow was vice president and director of T. Bear, created to promote HHS programs such as reducing childhood infection through hand-washing.

Haddow admitted that T. Bear, now called the Scrubby Bear Foundation, paid $37,400 to Michelle Magoon, a secretary at a Washington consulting firm, who did no work for the money.