Louisiana Gov. Edwards' Offer to Resign to Avoid Indictment Told

Associated Press

Gov. Edwin W. Edwards offered to resign if U.S. Atty. John Volz agreed to block an indictment of the governor--a request Volz refused, according to secret grand jury testimony released Wednesday by a federal judge.

Edwards and seven others were subsequently indicted on 50 counts of racketeering, mail fraud and wire fraud in what the government said was an illegal $10-million scheme to obtain state certificates authorizing the construction of hospitals and nursing homes.

The state certificates were then sold to big hospital corporations, which would be able to recoup almost all of their expenditures through government programs, according to the indictment.

Trial is scheduled for Sept. 17.

Cornerstone of Defense

One of the cornerstones of Edwards' pretrial defense was the assertion that Volz improperly told grand jurors Jan. 4 of a private conversation he had with Edwards two days earlier at Volz's office in New Orleans.

James Neal, the chief defense lawyer, said there might be grounds to have the indictments thrown out if the grand jury testimony showed Volz in the role of both prosecutor and prosecution witness against Edwards.

Volz fought against the release of his grand jury testimony but Edwards' lawyer petitioned successfully and Judge Marcel Livaudais on Wednesday granted full public disclosure of the material.

According to the transcript, Volz told the grand jury that Edwards asked during their conversation whether he might be indicted during a trip he planned to Japan in March, 1985--an embarrassment the governor said he would like to avoid.

Prosecutor Told Plans

Volz replied that he told Edwards of his plans to seek a racketeering indictment naming the governor, his brother Marion Edwards, Shreveport millionaire Gus Mijalis and perhaps others.

The grand jury subsequently issued its indictment Feb. 28 and Edwards cancelled the trip.

More chitchat followed before Volz told the grand jury:

"So, at any rate, we ended the conversation--oh, I'm sorry. I left out an important part; and I guess--I guess, maybe, subconsciously I didn't want to say it; but he (Edwards) said, 'I will do all'--he said, 'I will do anything to avoid being indicted.' He said, 'I'll resign.' He said, 'Would that make any difference?'

"I said, 'I can't make that kind of an agreement with you.' "

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