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Susan McDougal Faces Her Accuser

September 24, 1998

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) _ The wife of conductor Zubin Mehta testified Thursday she never authorized checks which a prosecutor contends Whitewater figure Susan McDougal used to pay medical bills and travel expenses for her family.

Nancy Mehta, who employed Mrs. McDougal as the family bookkeeper from 1989 to 1992, spent several hours on the stand identifying individual checks.

Some had her named forged on them, she said.

Mrs. McDougal, who sat quietly taking notes and staring at Mrs. Mehta in court, is charged with embezzling some $150,000 from the Mehtas to pay expenses for herself and her family, including dental and chiropractic bills.

Mrs. McDougal’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, has said he will show that Mrs. Mehta told her assistant to spend money as part of a plot to keep it away from her husband’s children.

On Wednesday, Mrs. Mehta denied there was any conflict with her husband about how to spend their money.

And Mrs. Mehta testified she never authorized Mrs. McDougal’s personal expenditures.

During a break, prosecutors complained Mrs. McDougal had called one of Zubin Mehta’s daughters after court Wednesday to try to pressure her to testify against Mrs. Mehta.

The prosecutor said the daughter refused and Mrs. McDougal called her again, prompting a request from the daughter to have the defendant admonished by the judge.

Geragos argued that it was proper for his client to contact a potential witness.

Superior Court Judge Leslie Light said he wanted no part of the dispute. ``I have enough rocks to turn over in my own garden without someone else’s,″ he said.

He said he saw no ethical conflict in Mrs. McDougal seeking witnesses in her defense but said the prosecutor could go to another judge if he wants to seek a restraining order. Light advised against it.

Mrs. McDougal, 43, spent 18 months behind bars rather than testify before the federal grand jury investigating President Clinton’s involvement in the Whitewater land deal. The current trial is not related to Whitewater.

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