Former Klan Leader Duke Pleads

Guilty to Fraud, Cheating on Taxes

NEW ORLEANS -- David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader and politician who spent the past three years overseas preaching "white survival," pleaded guilty to bilking his supporters and cheating on his taxes.

Duke, 52, could get as much as 15 months in prison and $10,000 in fines under a plea bargain with federal prosecutors. He is free on bail until his sentencing March 19.

The plea to felony charges disqualifies Duke from running for public office again.

He pleaded guilty to mail fraud and filing a false return shortly after the indictment was filed yesterday. The plea came two days after Duke returned to Louisiana from abroad to negotiate with prosecutors.

Duke said little in court and would not discuss details of the case outside the courthouse.

Duke was accused of telling supporters he was in financial straits, then misusing the money they sent him from 1993 to 1999. He was also accused of filing a false 1998 tax return claiming he made $18,831 when he actually made more than $65,000.

Ky. Begins Releasing Hundreds

Of Felons Because of Budget Crisis

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Jail and prison doors swung open for the first of hundreds of felons ordered freed by Gov. Paul Patton (D) because of a budget crunch.

Patton's "conditional commutation" covered 567 prisoners, all described as nonviolent offenders who, on average, were within 80 days of completing their sentences. Of that group, 363 were release yesterday, and the rest will be on Friday.

The Corrections Department said at least 90 might simply be swapping one cell for another because they have charges pending against them in other counties or states.

Patton's order was part of a plan to avert a $6 million deficit in the corrections budget. The order was intended to cut the number of state prisoners in county jails to 3,736.

Most of those being released were drug traffickers, drug users or thieves. Patton excluded sex offenders, four-time drunk drivers and those deemed to be violent or seriously mentally ill.

* CHESAPEAKE, Mo. -- Residents in Missouri and Arkansas sifted through debris and counted their blessings after deadly tornadoes swept through the states, killing three people and injuring more than 30.

* DETROIT -- A Roman Catholic priest was found guilty of sexual misconduct with an 11-year-old boy more than 30 years ago in a case that was filed under an exception to the statute of limitations. A jury found the Rev. Edward Olszewski guilty of four counts of indecent liberties with a minor child and innocent of four counts of sodomy. He faces 10 years in prison.

* YORK, Pa. -- Robert Messersmith and Gregory Neff, two white men convicted in the fatal shooting of a young black woman during the city's 1969 race riots were sentenced to more than four years in prison.

-- From News Services

David Duke, right, leaves the federal courthouse in New Orleans yesterday with attorney James McPherson.