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McDougal spends two days in hospital because of back pain

By Lynda Nikula/CNN

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (September 28) -- Whitewater figure Susan McDougal, on trial on embezzlement charges, was hospitalized for two days over the weekend because of back problems.

Mark Geragos, McDougal's attorney, says she will probably go back into the hospital after her court session Tuesday. Court will not be in session Wednesday for the Yom Kippur holiday.

McDougal
Susan McDougal  

The start of McDougal's embezzlement trial was delayed over the summer because of her back ailment. At the time, McDougal's doctors said she was not physically able to "undergo the rigors of a six-week jury trial without appropriate treatment and medical intervention," her attorney said.

Physicans' notes included with Geragos' motion for the trial delay said McDougal complained of chronic neck and upper back pain "that she says was aggravated by her recent incarceration."

McDougal was fitted for a back brace before the start of her state trial in California.

A former business partner of Bill and Hillary Clinton in the controversial Whitewater land deal, McDougal is charged with embezzling about $150,000 from conductor Zubin Mehta and his wife Nancy.

McDougal allegedly forged checks and charged hotel rooms, restaurant tabs, plane tickets and shopping sprees to the Mehtas while working as a personal assistant and bookkeeper from 1989 to 1992.

She was cited for contempt in September 1996 and served 18 months in jail for refusing to answer questions before Independent Counsel Ken Starr's Whitewater grand jury. McDougal faces trial in federal court in Arkansas on obstruction of justice and contempt counts stemming from her refusal in April to again answer questions in front of the grand jury about the president.

Citing her back problems, a federal judge released McDougal from prison in June after she served 3 1/2 months of a two-year term for a 1996 bank fraud conviction in the Whitewater case. McDougal was convicted along with her husband James and former Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker.

If convicted in the embezzlement case, McDougal faces up to seven years in prison.

Nancy Mehta is currently on the witness stand undergoing cross-examination by McDougal's attorney. Geragos said cross-examination may take several days.


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Monday, September 28, 1998



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