Iran-Contra Figure Channell Dies
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Carl ″Spitz″ Channell, the first person to plead guilty to illegal activities in the Iran-Contra case, has died of pneumonia while recovering from a car accident, associates said Tuesday.
The conservative fund-raiser, who was 44, died Monday at George Washington University Hospital, said hospital spokeswoman Terry Abdoo.
Channell pleaded guilty in April 1987 to conspiring to defraud the government by using his tax-exempt foundation to raise money for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels. The plea marked the first break for special prosecutors in their investigation of the Iran-Contra case.
He later assisted prosecutors in the investigation of the sale of American arms to Iran and the diversion of profits to the Contras.
Former Rep. Dan Kuykendall, a friend of Channell, said Channell had been undergoing chemotherapy for lung cancer and had recovered enough to engage in consulting work.
But he was struck by an automobile March 15 near his office in Southeast Washington, according to Kuykendall, who is now a Capitol Hill lobbyist.
District of Columbia police spokeswoman Shannon Cockett said the driver of the car, Donald Parker Jr., had lost control of his vehicle.
Parker, a Washington resident was given a ticket for failure to pay full time and attention, a moving violation, she said.
Because the accident resulted in a death, the case will be referred to the U.S. attorney for further investigation, Cockett said.
Abdoo said Channell had been admitted to the hospital April 17 and associates said he was being treated for complications from the car accident and the cancer.
Channell ″struggled and struggled,″ to recover from massive injuries that included several broken bones and a crushed pelvis, said Kuykendall.
Fighting cancer, from which his brother had died two years ago, Channell ″was in tough shape,″ Kuykendall said. ″But until he got hit, his spirit was remarkable.″
Services for Channell will be held Saturday in Elkins, W.Va., followed by burial in Huttonsville, W.Va., said Eleanor McManus, who is Channell’s aunt.
Channell was sentenced to two years’ probation in July 1989. He was accused of soliciting wealthy conservatives for sums of more than $1 million in some cases. Working with then-White House aide Oliver North, Channell routed the money to help the Contras during the time when Congress had banned U.S. government assistance.
He admitted in pleading guilty to falsely advising wealthy contributors that their donations to the Contras were tax deductible.