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Tucker Gets Four Years Probation

Jim Guy Tucker

LITTLE ROCK (AllPolitics, Aug. 19) -- A federal judge today sentenced former Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker to four years probation for his role in the Whitewater affair.

Tucker, who has chronic liver disease, managed to avoid federal prison, but his conviction earlier had forced him to resign -- reluctantly -- the governorship.

He must serve 18 months under house arrest, but can leave to go to church, family gatherings or to a job. He must pay $150,000 restitution to the Small Business Administration and an additional $25,000 fine.

Outside the court house, Tucker noted that he was originally charged with 11 felonies, but nine of them were either dismissed or he was acquitted of the charges, and that he received no money in the transaction that attracted prosecutors' attention.

"I think the courts took into consideration just the very extraordinary fact that I have a life-threatening disease and a sentence of imprisonment would have meant death for me in this case," Tucker said. (288K WAV sound)

Tucker told reporters he plans to comply immediately with the terms of his probation, but plans to proceed with an appeal, too. He said hopes for and expects "ultimate vindication." (224K WAV sound)

Tucker, found guilty of two of the seven fraud charges against him, had faced up to 10 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.

Meanwhile, Judge George Howard has delayed until Nov. 18 the sentencing of President Bill Clinton's former Whitewater partner Jim McDougal, the central figure in the case. The delay was granted because McDougal is involved in sentencing discussions with Whitewater prosecutors.

Sources close to McDougal tell CNN the office of special prosecutor Kenneth Starr had asked the judge to delay the sentencing for 90 days. The judge granted the request Aug. 9, but only unsealed his order today.

McDougal was convicted of fraud and conspiracy for financial dealings in Arkansas in the mid-1980's. Clinton was not charged with wrongdoing in connection with McDougal's activities. The sentencing of the two others convicted in the same trial is still scheduled. Susan McDougal, the former wife of Jim McDougal, is set to be sentenced for Tuesday morning.


James McDougal faces up to 84 years in prison and $4.5 million in fines. His former wife faces up to 17 years in prison and $1 million in fines.

It is not known if Jim McDougal's discussions with prosecutors will provide any new information which could implicate either the president or First Lady Hillary Clinton. McDougal steadfastly defended then-Gov. Clinton throughout his trial, charging the Independent Counsel's office with political motivations in pursuing the Whitewater investigation.

McDougal, however, had a falling out with Hillary Clinton over the Whitewater land deal, and has made little secret of his differences with the first lady.

The independent counsel's office would not comment on talks with McDougal.

Before the sentencing, lawyers for Tucker said he had no plans to help the prosecutors.

"He's never been asked to," one of Tucker's attorneys George Collins of Chicago, told The Associated Press last week. "He doesn't know anything about anything they'd be interested in."

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