Trial Covers Funding of Clinton Campaign: Bankers Accused of Diverting Funds
Seper, Jerry, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Jury selection begins today in Little Rock, Ark., in the trial of two bankers indicted on fraud and conspiracy charges in the suspected diversion of bank funds to several Arkansas politicians, including Bill Clinton.
Herbert Branscum Jr. and Robert M. Hill, who owned the Perry County Bank in Perryville, Ark., were indicted Feb. 20 by a federal grand jury on 11 felony counts of conspiracy, making false statements and misusing bank funds.
The two men were accused in an indictment sought by Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr of conspiracy to defraud the government, making false entries in bank records, misapplication of bank funds and making false statements to federal regulators. They pleaded not guilty Feb. 28. If convicted, they could face sentences of up to 225 years in prison and a total of $8.75 million in fines.
Accusations in the government's case, which will be presented by deputy independent counsel Hickman Ewing, relate to Mr. Clinton's 1990 gubernatorial campaign and could prove troubling for the president.
Dallas lawyer Dan Guthrie, who represents Mr. Branscum, told reporters last week there was "no question that the allegations in this case much more directly involve the president" than the recent trial in which Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker and the former owners of Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan Association, James B. McDougal and Susan McDougal, were convicted.
Mr. Clinton is scheduled to testify on videotape.
Mr. Branscum and Mr. Hill controlled shareholders in the bank's holding company, Perry County Bancshares Inc. Longtime Clinton campaign supporters, both were named to state regulatory boards after they approved $180,000 in loans to the Clintons in 1990.
The Perry County Bank has long been a focus of the Whitewater investigation. Special counsel Robert B. Fiske Jr first targeted it in 1994.
The indictment said Mr. Branscum, Mr. Hill and Neil T. Ainley, the bank's former president, were illegally reimbursed for more than $13,200 in contributions they made to political campaigns between May 1990 and November 1993. It also said Mr. Hill gave Mr. Clinton at least $7,000 in illegal political contributions in December 1990.
Mr. Branscum and Mr. Hill raised the cash through false expense vouchers submitted to the bank for reimbursement and through a $3,000 cashier's check directly from bank funds, according to the indictment. …