Cisneros Pleads Not Guilty
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Jan. 8) -- Former Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros and his former mistress Linda Jones pleaded not guilty today to 18 counts of lying, obstructing justice and conspiring to mislead FBI agents about payments that Cisneros made to Jones for her silence about their affair. U.S. District Judge Stanley Sporkin set a trial date of Nov. 4.
In a statement following the hearing Cisneros said, "I regret the pain that this matter has caused my wife and my children and my parents and my family. They are wonderful good loving people. I care deeply about my community and I love our country, which I have tried to serve in a number of different capacities. I came to Washington to try to do good and I am proud of the good that we were able to do."
Two former Cisneros' employees, John Rosales and Sylvia Arce-Garcia, also pleaded not guilty to charges of participating in the obstruction. Rosales and Arce-Garcia worked for Cisneros' San Antonio-based communications company before following him to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Cisneros was indicted by a federal grand jury on Dec. 11, charged with lying and obstructing justice by misleading FBI agents conducting a background check at the time of his nomination for a Cabinet position.
The government maintains that Cisneros lied to FBI agents when he said payments to Jones, formerly known as Linda Medlar, did not exceed $10,000 a year. They also maintain that he lied about the number of affairs he had during his marriage.
The indictment states Cisneros began his affair with Jones in 1987 when she worked for him as a political fund-raiser and even lived with her periodically in 1988. Cisneros allegedly paid Jones $185,000 from 1990 to 1992 and paid her an additional $79,500 in 1993, his first year as HUD secretary.
Jones filed a breach-of-contract suit in 1993 when Cisneros failed to continue to make $4,000 in monthly payments to her. In 1995, they reached a $49,000 settlement and agreed to remain silent on the issue.
Though she was originally granted immunity by independent counsel David. M. Barrett, Jones was indicted in a separate case in September 1996 for conspiracy, bank fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice. Barrett claimed that she continued to lie and obstruct the investigation even after immunity was granted.
Cisneros, 50, resigned as secretary of HUD in November 1996 and is the president of the Spanish-language TV network Univision.
Cisneros is the second former member of the Clinton Cabinet to face criminal charges. Mike Espy, former Agriculture secretary, is charged with accepting gifts and favors from large business under the regulatory powers of the Agriculture Department. Espy is awaiting trial.