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Aides Are Indicted, Flynn Faces Possible Civil Lawsuit Over Campaign Funds

February 2, 1996

BOSTON (AP) _ Accused of improperly spending campaign funds for personal use, U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Raymond Flynn said he is ready to pay back whatever prosecutors deem appropriate.

However, he and state Attorney General Scott Harshbarger remained far apart in their negotiations Thursday on what that amount should be, and he remained under the threat of a civil lawsuit.

The campaign finances of Flynn, who was Boston’s mayor from 1983 to 1993, have been under investigation by both state and federal prosecutors.

Investigators have been looking at whether Flynn or his aides misused campaign money for their own purposes, or peddled influence in City Hall in exchange for personal enrichment.

On Thursday, both Harshbarger and U.S. Attorney Donald Stern said no criminal charges would be filed against Flynn. Two of Flynn’s former aides were indicted.

Harshbarger, however, is considering suing Flynn in civil court for using campaign money for family trips, meals, entertainment and other personal expenses from 1988 to 1993.

Flynn will wind up in court early next week unless he and prosecutors can agree on how much he owes. His lawyers said it is about $9,000 at most; prosecutors believe it could be twice that much.

While Flynn escaped criminal prosecution, two of his aides weren’t as lucky.

Joseph Fisher, a former special assistant, faces federal charges of filing false tax returns for failing to disclose $51,000 in illegal gifts; Douglas deRusha was indicted on state charges of embezzling more than half a million dollars from the campaign fund.

Fisher agreed to plead guilty, and Stern said he would seek a prison term of 12 to 18 months. DeRusha will be arraigned on Monday in state court.

Harshbarger has contended that Flynn also accepted thousands of dollars in cash contributions that never were recorded on campaign finance statements or deposited in committee bank accounts.

At the news conference Thursday, Harshbarger said state prosecutors were unable to prove the charges and that some of the problems were caused by sloppy bookkeeping. ``We weren’t able to find the intent that was needed,″ Harshbarger said.

Flynn, in Rome, issued a statement saying his lawyers were in discussions with Harshbarger’s office over a possible settlement.

He also said he has no plans to return to the United States and denied a report in The Boston Globe that he has told diplomats he plans to resign this month. He has been ambassador to the Vatican since July 1993.

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