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Iowa Panel Drops Bribery Probe Involving Wymer

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

An Iowa legislative committee has dropped its yearlong investigation of a state senator accused of taking about $25,000 in bribes from convicted Orange County swindler Steven Wymer.

Wymer, of Newport Beach, faces sentencing next month in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles for bilking investment clients of more than $100 million. No place has suffered more than Iowa, where 88 government agencies invested more than $70 million in a Wymer client called Iowa Trust.

Wymer had testified via two-way television from Orange County that Iowa state Sen. Joe Welsh solicited bribes from him and had promised to influence legislation to help Wymer. Welsh denied taking the money and claimed that Wymer made up the bribery story to try to get a more lenient sentence.

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The legislative committee, while dropping the investigation, did not give Welsh the total vindication he had sought. Welsh had urged the committee to make a flat rejection of the charges. Instead, the committee said it had not found enough evidence “to meet the burden of proof” in such cases.

Wymer’s lawyer, James D. Riddet of Santa Ana, said Thursday he does not think the Iowa legislative action reflects on Wymer’s credibility. “The committee dropped the investigation because they couldn’t get any corroborating evidence, which often happens in cases like this,” Riddet said.

Riddet said he believes the federal court will view Wymer’s action as a “positive,” because Wymer had cooperated with the Iowa investigators.

Wymer has been free on $600,000 bail since pleading guilty on Sept. 29. He has been living in Orange County since then, Riddet said.

Wymer faces a prison sentence of up to 20 years. He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 10, but Riddet said Friday that he is asking for a postponement of that sentencing date.

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