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URGENT Newspaper: Rostenkowski Will Reject Plea Bargain

May 28, 1994

CHICAGO (AP) _ Rep. Dan Rostenkowski has decided to reject a prosecutors’ plea bargain offer and fight allegations of misusing government funds, the Chicago Sun- Times reported Saturday.

Rostenkowski informed prosecutors on Thursday of his decision and, barring any last minutes changes will be charged Tuesday, the newspaper said, citing unnamed sources.

Rostenkowski, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is under investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office over his use of office and campaign accounts. He could face indictment, raising speculation he might resign from Congress.

Prosecutors plan to ask a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., to return an indictment accusing Rostenkowski of defrauding the government of hundreds of thousands of dollars over a period of two decades, the paper said.

No negotiations are scheduled over the Memorial Day weekend, but Rostenkowski could still change his mind and accept the plea bargain by the Tuesday deadline, the Sun-Times said.

In their final plea bargain offer, prosecutors demanded that Rostenkowski plead guilty to a felony, serve a short prison sentence, resign form Congress immediately and make restitution.

U.S. Attorney Eric H. Holderman Jr. and a spokesman for Rostenkowski declined to comment on the status of the plea bargain offer Friday.

Meanwhile, in Kenosha, Wis., Rostenkowski came under scrutiny because records show he owes $3,300 in property taxes on a lake-shore home. Officials say they are convinced the tax delinquency is a simple, unintentional mistake.

Kenosha County Treasurer Frieda Jacobson said Friday that no drastic action was planned to collect the money and that Rostenkowski usually pays his taxes ″accurately and on time.″

″Taking of the property is not imminent,″ she said.

Rostenkowski was keeping a low profile Friday and it was unclear when he might comment on the delinquent taxes or the other matters.

Records at the Kenosha County Courthouse, reviewed by The Kenosha News, show Rostenkowski owns two parcels of land in the town of Randall on the shore of Lake Benedict.

One parcel, with a two-story lake-front house, was purchased in 1978 and is assessed at $200,000.

Records show that Rostenkowski made a partial payment of $2,179 on the property’s 1993 tax bill on Jan. 31, but the county had billed him $2,719 for the first installment. The total tax for the property is $5,301.

″It looks to us like he or his secretaries transposed the 7 and 1,″ Jacobson said, accounting for an underpayment of $540.

Because of the mistake, Rostenkowski was ordered by letter in April to pay the balance of the tax bill, or $3,122.48, plus interest of $124.90 and a $62.45 penalty. The total due is $3,309.83. The interest and penalty will increase monthly.

Jacobson said Rostenkowski hadn’t responded to the letter as of Friday.

Rostenkowski correctly paid the taxes on the other property, a one-story lake-shore house and a garage with guest quarters assessed at $410,000. Rostenkowski bought it in 1965.

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