Trie Pleads Not Guilty
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 5) -- Democratic fund-raiser Yah Lin "Charlie" Trie, pleaded not guilty to campaign finance charges today in federal court.
"Charlie Trie is a good, honorable and decent man," Trie attorney Reid Weingarten said after the hearing. "He never has been a fugitive from justice, and he never served as a spy for a foreign country, and he never intended to corrupt the American political system. Any effort to make him the heavy of this political scandal will fall of its own weight."
Weingarten also said the Trie defense would not comment publicly on the facts of the case but would make its arguments in court.
"We very much look forward to the opportunity to defend Charlie Trie against these charges, " Weingarten said.
Following his return to Washington Tuesday, Trie appeared before U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman today to be arraigned on charges of facilitating illegal political contributions in an effort to buy government influence.
Trie fled to China last year when the congressional investigation into his fund-rasing activities began. He is alleged to have funneled illegal foreign contributions to the Democratic National Committee to help the 1996 re-election effort of President Bill Clinton.
Trie surrendered to the FBI immediately after arriving in Washington. Weingarten had negotiated details of his surrender with the Justice Department. Trie was released on a $200,000 personal recognizance bond.
The bond arrangement was a condition of his surrender, according to a lawyer familiar with the case. The source also cautioned that Trie's return should not be seen as a sign that he is ready to deal with prosecutors. There are no ongoing plea negotiations, according to the source.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Weingarten said Trie returned voluntarily to fight the charges and put to rest any ideas that he was a spy for China or a fugitive.
Trie, 49, is a former restaurateur from Little Rock. He is accused of conspiring with Yuan Pei "Antonia" Pan, a business associate, to purchase influence from high government officials through contributions to the Democratic Party. The donations were allegedly made through "straw donors," who were reimbursed in cash.
Trie is also accused of conspiring to obstruct investigations of the Justice Department and the U.S. Senate by asking others to withhold or destroy subpoenaed documents.
Trie raised or donated to the DNC more than $600,000, which was returned because it came from questionable sources. He also delivered more than $600,000 to Clinton's legal defense fund. That money also was returned.