Tucker Pleads Guilty In Whitewater-Related Case
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AllPolitics, Feb. 20) -- Ex-Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker pleaded guilty Friday in a "sham bankruptcy" case brought by Whitewater Independent Counsel Ken Starr.
In a hearing before U.S. District Judge Stephen M. Reasoner, Tucker admitted he did not disclose the sale of a Florida cable television business when filing for bankruptcy in Texas in the 1980s. The non-disclosure saved him and his partner $3 million.
"I plead guilty," Tucker said. "I accept responsibility for it."
In a plea agreement with Starr's prosecutors, Tucker is expected to get five years probation, while two remaining charges will be dropped. No sentencing date was set.
As part of the deal, Tucker agreed to cooperate in Starr's long-running Whitewater investigation of President Bill Clinton.
Starr's prosecutors would not say whether Tucker will now be asked to testify against the president. Starr issued a statement saying he anticipates the agreement will "constitute substantial assistance" to his investigation.
In Little Rock, Starr's deputy Hickman Ewing Jr. told reporters he sees the agreement as "a significant advancement toward the goals of this investigation."
After a brief court appearance, Tucker said he decided to cut a deal to avoid a possible five-year prison sentence. "It would have been a death sentence," Tucker told reporters. The former governor has suffered from serious health problems in recent years.
The "sham bankruptcy" case is unrelated to the Clintons' Whitewater land dealings, which originally prompted the appointment of an independent counsel.
The Whitewater investigation turned to Tucker three years ago because of his business dealings with Clinton's former Whitewater partner, James McDougal.
Tucker and McDougal lost a fierce legal battle with Starr in 1996 when the independent counsel's prosecutors won convictions. The verdict forced Tucker to resign the governorship, and he was sentenced to four years probation.
Starr continues to examine the Clinton's business dealings in Arkansas while he was governor. But most of Starr's efforts have shifted to Washington where he is probing Clinton's activities in the years since he was elected president.
Most notably, in recent weeks the independent counsel has been squarely focused on calling grand jury witnesses to testify about the president's alleged relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
CNN's Terry Frieden contributed to this report.