Jones Cooperating in Probe

Linda Jones, the ex-mistress of former housing secretary Henry G. Cisneros, is once again cooperating with an independent counsel and could become a pivotal witness when he goes on trial July 6 on 18 felony charges.

During a hearing in U.S. District Court yesterday, Cisneros attorney Barry S. Simon said he recently learned that Jones had met with prosecutors working for independent counsel David M. Barrett 11 times in the past two months. Lawyers with Barrett's office confirmed they have met with Jones to review tape recordings she secretly made of her conversations with Cisneros concerning payments he made to her after their relationship ended.

Cisneros is accused of lying to the FBI about paying $250,000 in hush money to Jones (who at the time went by the name Medlar) during the early 1990s. Prosecutors said he conspired to keep details about his relationship from the FBI and others before and after his confirmation as housing secretary in January 1993. Cisneros, who reconciled with his wife, has denied any wrongdoing.

Jones and two of Cisneros's aides were indicted along with him in December 1997. The charges against Jones remain pending, despite the recent cooperation. She is serving a 42-month federal prison sentence after pleading guilty to conspiracy and bank fraud.

Cisneros, a former mayor of San Antonio, headed HUD from 1993 through 1996.

Hubbell Charge Reinstated

A federal appeals court yesterday handed independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr a victory in one of his cases against Webster L. Hubbell, reinstating a cover-up charge that was dismissed earlier this year by a lower court.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that U.S. District Judge James Robertson erred when he threw out the opening charge in a 15-count indictment concerning Hubbell's work for a failed Arkansas savings and loan. The trial is to begin Aug. 9.

Hubbell, a former associate attorney general, is accused of lying to federal regulators and Congress about work he performed in the mid-1980s for Madison Guaranty S&L and its Castle Grande project, a problem-plagued real estate development that helped trigger the S&L's collapse. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a former partner with Hubbell in the Rose Law Firm, also did work on the Castle Grande project, but she is not accused of wrongdoing.

In dismissing the charge last March, Robertson found it was so packed with detail that it became too vague for Hubbell to defend. Yesterday, a three-judge appellate panel unanimously agreed that the charge should be reinstated. The opinion was released by Judges Laurence H. Silberman, Stephen F. Williams and David S. Tatel.

The ruling marked the second time that the appellate court has reversed a decision Robertson made concerning Hubbell. Earlier this year, the court reinstated a separate tax fraud case that Starr has brought against Hubbell.