Whitewater prosecutor ordered to appear at Susan McDougal hearing
May. 07, 1997
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) _ A judge ordered Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr to appear at a criminal hearing for Susan McDougal, whose attorney claims a local prosecutor is conspiring with Starr to make her miserable.
On Tuesday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Paul Flynn ordered Starr to appear May 22, the scheduled start of Mrs. McDougal's embezzlement trial, which is unrelated to Whitewater.
She has been held for contempt since September for refusing to testify before a federal Whitewater grand jury.
Since December, she has been held in solitary confinement at Los Angeles County's women's jail awaiting trial on charges she stole $150,000 from symphony conductor Zubin Mehta.
But her lawyer claims the local prosecutor in the unrelated case is conspiring with Starr to coerce Mrs. McDougal into testifying before Starr's grand jury investigating matters arising from the failed Arkansas real estate development called Whitewater.
Mrs. McDougal, her ex-husband, Jim McDougal, then-Gov. Bill Clinton and wife Hillary were equal partners in the deal.
Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Semow and Starr's office deny those claims.
Flynn has issued several rulings allowing her to be transferred _ initially back to a federal lockup in Texas and later to the Pasadena, Calif., jail _ but she remains at county jail because federal and local authorities cannot agree on who is responsible for her custody.
``We don't have a removal order to remove her out of our jail, so she is still being held here,'' sheriff's custody chief Barry King said.
Flynn issued Tuesday's order after defense attorney Mark Geragos had Starr served with a subpoena Monday in a San Francisco restaurant.
Starr ignored the subpoena ordering him to appear in court Tuesday. When he did not show up, the matter was postponed until May 22. In a letter from the Office of Independent Counsel in Little Rock, Ark., , Flynn was told the subpoena did not meet federal guidelines and that Starr had returned to Washington, D.C.
Geragos said he wants to put Starr on the witness stand ``to get a straight answer'' about his client's incarceration.
``Officially, we have no comment,'' said Deborah Gershman, spokeswoman for Starr's office in Little Rock.
Geragos claims Starr and the local prosecutor are conspiring to make Mrs. McDougal as uncomfortable as possible while she refuses to testify before the Whitewater grand jury.
Mrs. McDougal, a former bookkeeper for the Mehtas, pleaded innocent. If convicted on all counts, she could face up to nine years in prison.
In interviews, Mrs. McDougal has accused Starr of conducting a witch hunt against the Clintons. She has refused to cooperate in his investigation.
Last year, Mrs. McDougal was sentenced to two years in prison for her role in Whitewater, but has yet to begin serving it. She can be held up to 18 months for contempt.
Her ex-husband, who cooperated with Starr's investigation, received a lenient sentence last month of three years in prison. Convicted on 18 felony counts involving fraud, he had faced up to 84 years imprisonment.