The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, December 07, 1994, Page 2, Image 2

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    Clinton confidant pleads guilty to felonies
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A disgraced
Webster Hubbell, confidant to President
Clinton and once the nation’s third-highest
law enforcement official, pleaded guilty
Tuesday to defrauding his former law part
ners and clients of nearly $400,000.
Hubbell’s voice cracked with emotion as
he entered guilty pleas to two felony charges
that ended a remarkable fall from govern
ment power.
Under a plea bargain, Hubbell, 46, will
cooperate with Whitewater prosecutor Ken
neth Starr’s wide-ranging investigation into
the business activities of the Clintons and
other prominent Arkansans.
Starr declined to comment on a likely
sentence but said he was “looking forward”
to Hubbell’s cooperation.
Lawyers familiar with the probe have
told The Associated Press that Starr intends
to question Hubbell about whether the
Clinton administration exercised any po
litical interference in the early investiga
tions that spawned the Whitewater affair.
The administration has denied any such
As a key member of Clinton’s transition
team and later No. 3 official in the Justice
Department, Hubbell was privy to the most
private conversations inside the adminis
tration. And as a government contractor in
the late 1980s, he also had access to the
internal records of the failed Arkansas sav
ings and loan that is a central focus of the
Whitewater probe.
“I deeply regret that my actions have
afflicted my family and friends and those
who have placed me in a position of trust,”
the former associate attorney general said in
federal court Tuesday.
“I know today is a very painful day for
them. If the consequences of my action were
only mine, this could be easier but they’re
not,” he said.
The first Clinton administration official
to admit to criminal activity as a result of the
Whitewater probe, Hubbell said he was guilty
of mail fraud and tax evasion.
Each charge carries a maximum of five
years in prison and a $250,000 fine. U.S.
District Judge William R. Wilson agreed to
release Hubbell on his own recognizance,
pending sentencing. No date was set.
Under federal sentencing guidelines dis
cussed in court, Hubbcll would face 27 to 33
months in prison if Wilson chose to impose
concurrent sentences. Hubbell also could
ask the court for a shorter sentence or pro
Calling Hubbell “an old friend,” Clinton
said he and his wife, Hillary, were saddened
by Tuesday’s events.
“We should remember that Webb is a
man who has given much to his family, his
community and his country,” Clinton said
in a statement released by the White House.
“The matter is in the hands of the court, and
I don’t think it would be appropriate to say
anything more than that.”
Meanwhile, the Clintons’ lawyer imme
diately sought to distance them from
Hubbell’s legal troubles.
“This matter simply docs not concern the
president, the first lady, or Whitewater De
velopment Company in anyway,” Attorney
David Kendall said in a prepared statement.
“The charges here are totally unrelated
— they arise out of Mr. Hubbell’s personal
“I know today is a very
painful day for them. If the
consequences of my action
were only mine, this could
be easier but they're not. ”
former Associate Attorney General
income tax returns and individual billing
procedures as an attorney in private practice
in Little Rock before he came to Washing
ton,” Kendall said.
On the tax evasion charge, prosecutors
alleged Hubbell underreported his income
by more than $100,000 in 1992. They said
he paid federal income taxes of $32,193 that
year but should have paid $71,358.
“Light” doesn’t mean healthier
cigarette smokers, experts say
BETHESDA, Md. — Cigarette
packages deceive smokers by list
ing very low tar and nicotine con
tents and should instead disclose
the maximum amount smokers can
inhale, a federal panel of tobacco
experts said Tuesday.
Cigarettes also should list the
carcinogens they contain, warn that
certain smoking habits increase
absorption of those chemicals, and
add a disclaimer that “light” brands
aren’t really more healthful, con
cluded the panel convened by the
National Cancer Institute.
“The health benefits of switch
ing to low-tar and -nicotine ciga
rettes is minimal compared to quit
ting entirely,” said Dr. Harold Free
man of the President’s Cancer
Panel, who headed the special com
The panel’s recommendations
came at the request of the Federal
Trade Commission and Congress
after complaints that FTC-designed
testing of cigarettes’ tar and nico
tine deceive smokers into thinking
low-yield brands are less threaten
The FTC pledged to review the
recommendations but warned that
it has jurisdiction only over false
advertising of cigarettes, not health
And the tobacco industry im
mediately noted that many of the
recommendations would require
congressional intervention because
federal law prohibits any addition
or deletion to health warnings al
ready on cigarettes.
“Some of those recommenda
tions might be put in place by the
FTC without congressional action,”
responded Rep. Henry Waxman,
D-Calif. “I certainly would be will
ing to work on legislation to make
sure consumers have the full infor
mation they ought to about the
dangers from cigarette smoking.”
But now that Waxman’s high
profile tobacco probe is about to be
ended by the new Republican Con
gress, such legislation might fail,
he acknowledged.
Industry representatives
wouldn’t say if they would chal
“The health benefits of
switching to low-tar
and -nicotine
cigarettes is minimal
compared to quitting
entirely. ”
the President’s Cancer Panel
lenge the recommendations, but
said the changes could backfire.
“If the ranges of nicotine in
ultra-light and light brands over
lap, a smoker might move up to the
higher-yield brand,” suggestedR. J.
Reynolds spokeswoman Maura
And the terms “light” and “ul
tra light” merely describe different
brands’ tastes, not health risks,
added the Tobacco Institute’s
Brennan Dawson.
Pilot suspended after refusing
to fly during holiday ice storm
CHICAGO—American Eagle has
suspended a pilot who questioned the
safety of the airline’s small turboprop
planes following a crash that killed
all 68 people aboard.
Steve Fredrick says company offi
cials suspended him without pay on
the spot at O’Hare International Air
port last Saturday after he refused to
show them the contents of a satchel.
He said the pretext was insubordina
tion, but the airline was actually pun
ishing him for saying its ATR planes
aren’t safe to fly in icy weather.
“I’m not afraid of going on the
record. Come heck or high water, I’ll
deal with it,” Fredrick said Tuesday
in a phone interview from his home in
Elkhart Lake, Wis.
American Eagle spokesman Marty
Heires confirmed the suspension. He
said Fredrick was being investigated
for misconduct but declined to give
any other details.
Fredrick said that in the five years
he has flown ATRs for American
Eagle, he has worried about the abil
ity of the European-made plane to fly
safely in icy conditions.
Fredrick said that when he was
initially trained on ATRs he was
warned by an instructor that “this
plane will try to kill you in ice, so go
fast. Speed means life in this air
Investigators looking into the fatal
Oct. 31 crash of an American Eagle
ATR-72 outside Roselawn, Ind., are
focusing on wing icing. The cause of
the crash has not been determined.
Fredrick, 36, acknowledged he was
the anonymous source for stories con
cerning ATR safety published last
week in the Chicago Tribune. He also
appeared in silhouette without his
name being used on ABC’s “Good
Morning America.”
Last week, safety questions arose
again when the airline canceled 14
ATR flights out of O’Hare.
There were reports that some pi
lots had refused to fly, but airline
officials said the flights were grounded
Nov. 27 only because information the
flight crews had sought about the
weather wasn’t immediately avail
Fredrick said he and other pilots
refused to fly because of the weather.
“I and my captain both refused to
fly,” Fredrick said. “We refused to fly
a turn from Chicago to Columbus,
Ohio, and back because of the
American Eagle is an umbrella
name for Simmons Airlincsand three
other regional subsidiaries of Dallas
based AMR Inc., which also owns
American Airlines.
American Eagle is the world’s larg
est operator of the ATR-72 and the
smaller ATR-42.
Since the Roselawn crash, the
National Transportation Safety Board
has recommended that ATRs not fly
in known icing conditions.
Fewer farms reduce
demand for services
states, which have dramatically lost
farm population over half a century,
will take the biggest cuts when Agri
culture Secretary Mike Espy closes
1,070 field offices.
Announcement Tuesday of the
planned closings culminates more
than two years of wrangling. Presi
dent Clinton, facing a Republican
takeover of Congress, called the plan
“an example of how Democrats and
Republicans can work together.”
, “I am proud of the USD A reorga
nization because it shows that with a
lot of hard work government can be
changed to do a much better job with
fewer dollars,” Clinton said.
Republicans noted the plan dif
fered little from the one introduced by
the Bush administration shortly be
fore leaving office in January 1993.
The department says the plan is
part of a larger streamlining effort
that could cut the payroll by 11,000
people and save $3.6 billion over five
years. The department has 110,000
full-time employees and a 1995 bud
get of $67 billion.
Some closings will begin immedi
ately, but the process will take up to
three years, giving time for leases to
expire and some new locations to be
built. The department expects few
layoffs, because many employees are
retiring or taking buyouts.
The department says farmers will
be better served by fewer locations,
because service centers for commod
ity programs, crop insurance, loans
and some conservation programs will
be put under one roof. A new Consoli
dated Farm Service Agency will do
most of the work of four.
But many people out in farm coun
try were skeptical.
“If this streamlines the situation
and doesn’t require a lot of sacrifice,
we’re all for it,” said Greg Hicks,
communications director for the Farm
Bureau in Virginia, where the num
ber of office locations will drop from
111 to 54. “But we have a feeling it’s
really going to create a difficult situ
ation for some farmers.”
Virginia and the rest of the South
will account for more than half the
1,070 closings, which will drop the
number of locations from 3,601 to
2,531. Georgia will be hit hardest,
losing 101 of its 193 offices. Texas
follows, losing 98 offices, but will
keep 219 — far more offices than any
other state.
The offices sprouted up because of
laws enacted in the Depression era,
when 6.8 million farms operated.
Today, the nation has fewer than 2
million farms, fewest since before the
Civil War.
In the five decades since the end of
World War II. the South lost 10.5
million farm residents as the area
became increasingly urban and de
veloped, leaving just 1.4 million
people on farms.
Better highways and telecommu
nications also have made it easier for
farmers to get information and reach
government offices. The Southeast,
settled earlier than the Midwest, has
many small counties, and single coun
ties tend to have offices in separate
But as recently as early 1993, agen
cies that served farmers occupied
3,700 offices in almost every one of
the nation’s 3,150 counties. Since
then, about 100 offices have been
quietly closed.
Evenbefore 1993, offices were put
under one roof in Midwestern states.
Iowa as a result, will have an office in
each of its 99 counties, but 13 offices
will be closed.
Of the closings, 498 will require
farmers and others to travel to a neigh
boring county. The remaining 572
offices will simply be moved to a new
location within a county.
Tuesday’s plan does not affect
nearly 7,000 other agency offices of
the department that handle every
thing from forestry* to nutrition.
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