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Wash. GOP Donor Pleads Guilty

March 18, 1998

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) _ Thomas Stewart, the state Republicans’ biggest campaign contributor, pleaded guilty today to a misdemeanor charge of illegally funneling money into two campaigns.

Under a plea bargain, Stewart agreed to pay a state-record fine of $5 million and serve 60 days of home detention.

Stewart entered his plea before U.S. Magistrate John Weinberg in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

Stewart, the owner of Services Group of America and its affiliate, Food Services of America, also has agreed to work in Seattle soup kitchens as part of the plea bargain reached with state and federal prosecutors.

Since Stewart pleaded guilty only to a misdemeanor, he will not serve jail time or have his voting rights taken away.

``I accept completely responsibility for the actions that brought us to the plea agreement today,″ Stewart said after his court appearance. ``I apologize to the community for those actions.

``Our company cooperated fully in the investigation of this matter and we believe today’s agreement brings this to an end.

``I love this country and the values for which it stands. In the future our company will comply in every respect with the laws governing election campaigns and contributions.″

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