Channell Gets Probation for Contra Role

From Associated Press

A fund-raiser convicted in the Iran-Contra affair was placed on two years of probation Friday for illegally using a tax-exempt foundation to help Oliver L. North raise donations for the Nicaraguan rebels.

Carl R. (Spitz) Channell, who pleaded guilty in the early stages of the Iran-Contra investigation and testified against North, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Stanley S. Harris.

Before placing him on probation, Harris cited Channell’s early cooperation with the investigation by independent counsel Lawrence E. Walsh after his April 29, 1987, guilty plea to conspiring to defraud the Treasury.

The judge said, “It makes it very difficult” to impose a sentence “when crimes have been committed by someone so firmly dedicated to furthering the interests of the country.”


‘I Love This Country’

Before he was sentenced, Channell told Harris that “malice never entered my decisions, my heart or my mind because I love this country. I suffer more because I have committed a crime against the country which I love so much.”

Channell, 44, could have received a five-year sentence and been fined up to $250,000 for his guilty plea. He admitted raising $2 million through the tax-exempt National Endowment for the Preservation of Liberty for the non-deductible purpose of purchasing weapons for the Contras.

The foundation used White House briefings and private meetings between prospective donors and then-President Ronald Reagan to raise $10 million for the Contras at a time when U.S. military aid was banned by Congress.


Channell was sentenced one day after Harris ordered Channell’s former associate, Richard R. Miller, who also pleaded guilty to misusing the tax-exempt foundation to raise money for the Contras, to perform 120 hours of community service in addition to two years of probation.

Miller and Channell both testified that North was part of the scheme to use the foundation to raise money for the rebels.

North was acquitted of the tax-conspiracy charge after his lawyers convinced jurors that he did not know Channell was telling donors they could take a tax write-off for their contributions to the Contras.