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Lawyer: Plea Bargain in Imelda Marcos Case Discussed

December 22, 1989

NEW YORK (AP) _ Lawyers for Imelda Marcos met with federal prosecutors earlier this month to discuss a possible plea bargain in the racketeering case against the widow of former Philippine leader Ferdinand Marcos, an attorney said Thursday.

John J. Tigue, a Marcos lawyer in New York, said a series of discussions, initiated by the Philippine and United States governments, took place in California over Dec. 9-12.

He said the talks were ″preliminary chitchat. ... Nothing came of it.

″In this sort of case, these things happen all the time.″ he said.

Tigue said Mrs. Marcos’ defense team was still preparing for her scheduled trial March 14 on charges she and her late husband siphoned more than $100 million from the Philippines treasury and funneled it into this country for the purchase of New York real estate and art.

According to Tigue, the proposed plea agreement called for Mrs. Marcos to plead guilty to mail fraud and obstruction of justice charges in exchange for a suspended prison term.

Under the proposal, Mrs. Marcos would have to provide a full financial disclosure and forfeit hundreds of millions of dollars in assets, Tigue said. She also would have to remain on probation in the United States as long as the current Philippine leader, Corazon Aquino, was in power.

Tigue said the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles LaBella, gave Mrs. Marcos until Jan. 12 to decide whether to accept the plea agreement. He however, dismissed the date as an ″artificial deadline.″

The attorney also said any settlement of the criminal charges also would have to include several civil racketeering lawsuits brought by the Philippine and U.S. government against the Marcoses.

LaBella, reached in his office in New York, said he could not comment on the reported plea bargain discussions.

Tigue said Mrs. Marcos’s attorney in San Francisco, John J. Bartko, was her representative at the talks. Also present were LaBella and representatives from the Philippine government, he said. Bartko was not in his office Thursday and did not return phone calls for comment.

Saudi financier Adnan Khashoggi, one of Mrs. Marcos’s co-defendants in the racketeering case, said Thursday that he also was aware that negotiations were taking place with Mrs. Marcos’s lawyers.

Khashoggi, who was in court to formalize a change in attorneys, said he had not had similar discussions. He said he was still hoping to have the charges against him dismissed.

″I’d like to see an innocent man go free as soon as possible,″ said Khashoggi, who was released on $10 million bail while he awaits trial.

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