Former House Aide Pleads Guilty in Post Office Case
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A onetime top aide to former Rep. Joseph Kolter, D-Pa., pleaded guilty Wednesday to reduced charges of obstructing justice and distributing cocaine in the House Post Office scandal.
Prosecutors agreed in a plea bargain to dismiss 19 other charges against Gerald W. Weaver II later, in exchange for Weaver’s promise to testify before a grand jury and in future trials about ″the embezzlement of government funds, misappropriation of stamps and misuse of campaign funds.″
Weaver’s attorney, Jeffrey O’Toole, would not comment on what additional information his client could provide the grand jury.
For nearly two years, the panel has been investigating allegations that the House Post Office was used illegally to convert congressional expense vouchers into campaign funds or cash through transactions disguised as stamp purchases.
Last May, the panel subpoenaed expense vouchers dating from 1986 to April 1992 for Kolter and Reps. Dan Rostenkowski, D-Ill., and Austin J. Murphy, D- Pa.
Kolter, a five-term House member who was defeated in last year’s primary election; Rostenkowski, chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, and Murphy, who chairs a labor standards subcommittee, also were subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury.
Citing constitutional protections against self-incrimination, all have refused to testify. But they also have denied any wrongdoing while accusing prosecutors of conducting a political witch hunt. None of the lawmakers has been indicted.
U.S. Attorney Jay Stephens, who says he will leave office on Friday, told reporters last week that he expected a ″critical decision″ within a month on whether his office would seek more indictments.
Weaver, 37, pleaded guilty Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson to one count of obstructing justice, one count of distributing cocaine and one count of conspiring to distribute cocaine.
Johnson set sentencing for June 28. The maximum penalty Weaver could get would be up to 45 years in prison and up to $2.25 million in fines.
Under the plea agreement, Weaver admitted cashing $2,800 in personal checks at the House Post Office while working as a private lobbyist after leaving Kolter’s staff. Under the guise of buying stamps, he used the money to instead purchase cocaine from Wendell Magruder, then an employee of the facility.
He also admitted to attempting to obstruct the grand jury’s probe by submitting false documents to it and by asking a former business associate to alter records on his behalf.
Magruder had pleaded guilty earlier to conspiring to cover up his embezzlements of stamps and cash from the post office.
Weaver is the seventh former House employee convicted in the investigation. Workers at the House Post Office are employed by Congress, rather than the U.S. Postal Service.