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Democratic fund-raiser Charlie Trie surrenders to custody

By Terry Frieden/CNN

January 26, 1999
Web posted at: 4:51 p.m. EDT (1651 GMT)

Trie
Yah Lin "Charlie" Trie  

WASHINGTON (January 26) -- Democratic fund-raiser Yah Lin "Charlie" Trie surrendered to federal custody Tuesday after his lawyers failed to persuade a judge that he was not planning to flee the U.S. to avoid his upcoming trials.

For the second time in two days, Trie's lawyers pleaded with U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman not to order Trie back into custody. His attorneys insisted Trie's effort to get a new passport did not reflect a desire to flee.

But the judge sternly rejected the efforts and ordered Trie to a Washington halfway house 24-hours-a-day.

"You're right to consider this the equivalent of incarceration," Judge Friedman said. He ruled Trie can only be released to appear in court.

Trie's lead attorney Reid Weingarten told the judge the D.C. half-way houses are "notorious," proposing a last-minute plan to have Trie housed and supervised in private homes.

Officials determined earlier Tuesday that half-way houses are not available in the Virginia Beach area. Judge Friedman had asked authorities to find a half-way house near Norfolk, Virginia, where Trie has been living with his sister.

But Judge Friedman said, "He has violated the conditions of his release. His only alternative is the D.C. jail."

On Monday Judge Friedman ordered Trie back into federal custody, expressing "deep concern" that the Taiwanese native may try to flee to the U.S. to avoid prosecution.

The ruling supported a motion by the Justice Department's campaign-finance prosecutors. They charge Trie attempted to get a substitute Taiwanese passport to replace the one he told police had been stolen in a burglary at his Little Rock, Arkansas home. The government said Trie's passport had, in fact, been taken from him when he was arrested on campaign finance-related charges last year.

"It strains credulity," said Justice Department prosecutor George Vein of Trie's burglary story.

Trie, a former Little Rock restaurateur and close friend of President Bill Clinton, was ordered to report to a half-way house for at least 60 days.

In December, restrictions on Trie had been tightened to limit his movement to the Virginia Beach area. At that time officials had been aware of the passport application but unaware of the suspected false police report, which if proven would be in violation of Arkansas law.

Trie sat quietly in court as the judge revoked his bail. But outside the courtroom, Weingarten blasted government prosecutors.

"This is part of their incessant effort to bring him to his knees," Weingarten told reporters. "For some reason they seem to think he has information about a Chinese government plan to influence U.S. elections."

Earlier, in court, Weingarten insisted Trie had no intention to flee and had twice traveled to Taiwan and returned under court restrictions.

Weingarten, pointing at prosecutors from Attorney General Janet Reno's Campaign Finance Task Force, accused the government of trying "to show how tough they are, and put pressure on him to talk."

The lawyer insisted Trie had indeed been burglarized in Little Rock, and that Trie had not intentionally filed a false police report. "The day he turned himself in was utter chaos and he was not aware his passport was taken from him," Weingarten said.

Judge Friedman cited what he termed suspicious timing in Trie's effort to obtain a passport without telling the government, the court, or his own lawyers.

Trie faces an April trial in Little Rock on charges he interfered with a Senate investigation by ordering subpoenaed documents to be hidden.

He faces a trial in Washington later this year over allegations he gave illegal political contributions to the Democratic National Committee and arranged for other illegal donations.

Four of the original 15 counts against Trie have been thrown out by the same judge who revoked his bail Monday.


RELATED STORIES

Trie faces new charge; Chung's sentencing postponed (11-10-98)

Trial dates set for Trie, Kanchanalak (8-21-98)

Chung to implicate Chinese state business in moneytrail (3-6-98)

Chung agrees to plead guilty (3-5-98)

Charlie Trie indicted (1-286-98)


RELATED SITES

Gavel to Gavel: AllPolitics special report on campaign fund-raising



MORE STORIES:

Tuesday, January 26, 1999

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