Former Top Housing Aide Indicted
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Deborah Gore Dean, a onetime top aide in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, was indicted Tuesday on charges of receiving an illegal gratuity and making a false statement to a Senate committee.
Ms. Dean, who wielded considerable power as the executive assistant to former Housing Secretary Samuel Pierce, is a central figure in the investigation of alleged influence-peddling at HUD during the Reagan administration.
A federal grand jury charged her in a two-count felony indictment with receiving $4,000 illegally in connection with a private request for HUD funds.
She also was accused of filing a false statement with a Senate committee in June 1987 related to her nomination to be an assistant HUD secretary. The nomination was never confirmed.
″I am innocent of all charges,″ Ms. Dean told reporters at a news conference. She maintained the indictment was ″designed to intimidate and coerce me into pleading to a crime I did not commit and then to testify against others,″ including Pierce.
″I am not saying that there weren’t bad apples at HUD,″ Ms. Dean said. ″Some people sold influence.″ She declined to elaborate.
Independent Counsel Arlin Adams said in a statement that his office was continuing to investigate Ms. Dean’s activities and that the indictment was brought now so the case would fall within the statute of limitations. Her attorney, Steven Wehner, said Ms. Dean refused to waive the statute of limitations and would not waive her right to a speedy trial.
Pierce has not been charged, but Adams has been authorized to investigate whether he lied under oath to Congress about his tenure at HUD and whether he showed illegal political favoritism in administering HUD programs. Pierce served during all eight years of the Reagan administration.
Ms. Dean, 37, who had no previous housing experience, worked for HUD from 1982 to 1987 and for the last three years served as Pierce’s executive assistant.
Her official files, released in 1989, showed that she was involved in a wide range of HUD activities - endorsing projects she liked and keeping Pierce informed of important developments.
The indictment said Ms. Dean received a $4,000 check on about April 29, 1987, from an unidentified private individual in connection with ″official acts″ related to a request for funds under HUD’s Section 8 Moderate Rehabilitation Program. That program involved rehabilitation of existing housing and subsidies to low-income families living in those units.
″It’s just not at all what they think it is,″ Ms. Dean said. ″It involves a very close personal friend of mine″ and was not related to HUD activities. She declined to identify the person, saying he ″is innocent as well and we don’t want to have him go through what I have gone through.″
A spokeswoman for Adams would not say who allegedly gave the $4,000 check or provide any other details on the charge.
The false statement charge involved a written statement filed with the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, which was considering Ms. Dean’s nomination to become assistant HUD secretary for community planning and development.
In that statement, she denied having any investments, obligations or relationships that would create a conflict of interest in the post.
The indictment said such a possible conflict existed because of the $4,000 check, which had not been repaid.
A House Government Operations subcommittee report on its investigation of HUD called Ms. Dean a ″key player″ in the moderate rehabilitation funding program. But it added, ″it remains an open question whether Ms. Dean was the power broker or was acting as an agent for the Secretary,″ referring to Pierce.
She refused to testify when called before the panel on June 13, 1989, invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Ms. Dean, daughter of a politically well-connected Republican family, came to HUD after a brief stint as an Energy Department aide. Prior to that she was a part-time bartender and publisher of a lifestyle magazine. She now runs an antique store in Washington’s Georgetown section called the ″Proud American.″
The illegal gratuity count carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine, while the false statement charge carries a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.