Federal agents today seized control of the headquarters of political extremist Lyndon H. LaRouche in an attempt to collect on part of more than $21 million in fines facing LaRouche-related groups.
Officers of the U.S. Marshals Service, acting under a federal involuntary bankruptcy order, occupied LaRouche organization offices at three locations around Leesburg shortly before 7 a.m..
Use of the sealed order, signed Monday by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Martin V. B. Bostetter, was regarded as a rare legal maneuver by the government.
According to the order, federal trustees are to be appointed to assume control of three principal LaRouche-related companies, with the power to halt illegal or unnecessary activities but to continue other operations.
At a news conference later, U.S. Atty. Henry Hudson said marshals also seized control of many LaRouche offices around the country, including those in Houston; Quincy, Mass.; Washington, D.C., and Palisades, N.Y.
Money from the companies' continuing operations is to be collected by the government to pay the fines, according to the order, a copy of which was made available by marshals.
The order said that the organizations have been "governed, directed and financed through a common network controlled by Lyndon LaRouche" and that there is a substantial danger that the corporations will conceal or dispose of assets unless put under the control of interim trustees.
The order directed marshals to seize the assets and property of three LaRouche organizations that face fines of more than $5 million each. The fines were levied by a federal judge in Boston for contempt of court for failing to turn over financial records sought by a grand jury.
The records were sought to aid an investigation of an alleged credit card scam used to fund LaRouche's 1984 presidential campaign.
LaRouche espouses eccentric theories of world conspiracies including allegations of drug-dealing and other crimes by prominent Americans and other world leaders. He has announced his intention to run for President again in 1988 as a Democrat, although he has remained out of the country since early December, 1986.
The government is seeking $21.4 million in fines from four LaRouche-related organizations: Campaigner Publications Inc., the Fusion Energy Foundation, the National Democratic Policy Committee, and Caucus.