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Fund-Raiser Huang To Plead Guilty

May 25, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Former Democratic fund-raiser John Huang is cooperating with the Justice Department’s investigation of campaign financing and will plead guilty to conspiracy to make illegal contributions, the department said today.

Huang has been talking to the department for several months, officials said.

Huang, a frequent White House visitor who met several times with President Clinton, joins two other key players in the 1996 controversy over illegal campaign contributions now cooperating with the Justice Department’s task force.

A one-count criminal information charging felony conspiracy in campaign fund raising was filed today in Los Angeles against Huang. No plea agreement will be filed today. Huang has been cooperating with the campaign finance task force and it’s likely there will be a plea bargain filed soon, said the Justice Department.

Huang is likely to plead guilty next week, the department said.

The one count filed today charged Huang with conspiring to defraud the Federal Election Commission by causing Lippo Group employees to donate money that was reimbursed by the Lippo Group in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The conspiracy charge is for two campaign contributions totaling less than $10,000 made in the early 1990s.

A legal source familiar with the deal said that under a special federal criminal procedure, the Justice Department has agreed to seek a sentence of one year of probation for Huang with a small fine and some community service.

As part of Huang’s agreement, the Justice Department’s statement acknowledged there is no evidence that he engaged in espionage or any violations of national security laws. In addition, the government has written a letter in support of the restoration of Huang’s voting rights.

Little Rock, Ark., restaurateur Yah Lin ``Charlie″ Trie entered a plea agreement last week, cutting off his trial for allegedly obstructing the Senate’s investigation of campaign finance abuses. Another fund-raiser, Johnny Chung, was sentenced to five years of probation in Los Angeles after cooperating with the Justice probe.

The Huang deal, the result of lengthy negotiations, was finally signed by the Justice Department last week, according to the source.

A former Commerce Department official, Huang was the Democratic Party’s chief fund-raiser for the Asian-American population for the 1996 election. He has been a key figure in investigations of foreign contributions.

The source also said Huang has been cooperating with several independent counsels, but did not identify them. It was disclosed last year that he had cooperated with Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s probe of longtime Clinton friend Webster Hubbell, the former law partner of the first lady.

Another independent counsel is investigating allegations that Labor Secretary Alexis Herman engaged in influence peddling and solicited $250,000 in illegal campaign contributions.

Separately, an independent counsel is investigating whether Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt lied to Congress about his role in rejecting a casino proposal from a group of Wisconsin Indians.

Huang’s lawyer, Ty Cobb, declined immediate comment.

A federal judge has discretion to reject the deal. Huang’s cooperation, coupled with fact that the violation he is pleading guilty to occurred years ago, would be taken into consideration.

After the fund-raising controversy emerged, Democrats returned $2.8 million in questionable donations for the 1996 election, including $1.6 million raised by Huang.

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