Government Rests Its Case in LaRouche Fraud Trial
Prosecutors completed their case Wednesday against political extremist Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. on charges of conspiring to commit tax fraud and taking part in a fund-raising scheme involving more than $30 million in largely unrepaid loans.
LaRouche, a perennial minor-party presidential candidate, was reportedly sick at his Leesburg, Va., estate, but he was expected to appear in U.S. District Court today when his lawyers are expected to begin presenting their case.
Defense attorney Odin Anderson of Boston said that he had about 50 prospective witnesses, and that LaRouche probably would be called to testify.
Judge Orders Recess
The government rested its case and Chief U.S. District Judge Albert V. Bryan Jr. ordered a recess in the 10-day-old trial after a lawyer from Richland, Wash., told jurors that he had loaned $100,000 to various LaRouche organizations in 1985 but had received only about $7,000 in interest payments.
The witness, Alan Rither, said that the only other things he had received in return were a Christmas card from LaRouche in 1985, a copy of a book entitled “Dope, Inc.” and a woman’s ring offered as collateral for one of his loans. Rither said that he sold the ring for $2,000.
Rither was asked why he continued to lend thousands of dollars to LaRouche fund-raisers after they had defaulted on his initial loans. “I felt if I tried to maintain good relations with the organization, maybe I’d stand a better chance of being repaid,” he said.
Rither was the last in a parade of government witnesses who complained that their loans to the LaRouche organization were never repaid as promised.
In an indictment returned Oct. 14 by a federal grand jury in Alexandria, LaRouche and six associates were charged with mail fraud and conspiracy for allegedly raising more than $30 million in loans from individual supporters without any intention of repaying them.
LaRouche was also accused of conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service by failing to file income tax returns for any year since 1978 and having all his personal expenses paid by various corporations he controls.
LaRouche previously called the indictment “a heap of garbage” and “purely a political stunt” timed to hurt his candidacy in November’s presidential election. The indictment climaxed a two-year grand jury investigation.