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Real Estate Executive Appears Before Meese Grand Jury

April 26, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A real estate executive for the wealthy Bender family of Washington testified Tuesday before a grand jury investigating a job the Benders arranged for the wife of Attorney General Edwin Meese III while leasing office space to the Justice Department.

Stephen Lustgarten, a vice president of the family’s Blake Construction Co., testified for nearly two hours to the grand jury convened by independent counsel James C. McKay to investigate conflict-of-interest allegations involving the attorney general’s personal finances.

Lustgarten witnessed the signature of Howard M. Bender on the $50 million lease renewal the partnership signed with the Justice Department to continue to provide office space here to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The renewal was signed 13 days before the Bender partnership sold the office building for $22.6 million more than it had paid for it two years earlier - a 60 percent profit.

In October 1985, the Bender family foundation donated money to the Multiple Sclerosis Society to finance Ursula Meese’s $40,000-a-year job for three years. Mrs. Meese, who was questioned last week by the grand jury, had worked for the charity as a volunteer until joining its paid staff in 1986.

Both Bender and his wife, Sondra, have also been questioned by the grand jury.

Lustgarten, who works in Blake Construction’s real estate division, declined to comment as he left the grand jury with his attorney, Seymour Glanzer, who also represents the Benders.

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