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Lawyers for former HUD Secretary attempt to quash secret tapes

By Ted Barrett/CNN

June 21, 1999
Web posted at: 6:32 p.m. EDT (2232 GMT)

WASHINGTON (June 21) -- Lawyers for former Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros argued Monday that tapes secretly recorded by his ex-mistress should not be admitted at his trial.

Cisneros' legal team told a federal judge that the tapes, 88 in all, were edited by Linda Jones and therefore inadmissable to the trial scheduled for September.

Cisneros is accused of lying to investigators about more than $264,000 he paid Jones in the late 80s and early 90s.

Prosecutor Mark Jankowski said the tapes will corroborate witness accounts that Cisneros, a former mayor of San Antonio, Texas, paid off his former lover so he could maintain his political viability.

At a pre-trial hearing, Cisneros's attorney Barry Simon told U.S. District Court Judge Stanley Sporkin the tapes are "tampered, inauthentic evidence."

"The tapes shouldn't come in," he said, "The bottom line is the government has advised the court already ... they were tampered with. End of story."

Under questioning from Jankowski, Jones admitted she deleted embarrassing portions of the tapes that dealt with threats she made against Cisneros if he were to end his almost-monthly payments to her. She also deleted portions that involved discussions of sex or other people.

Jones said she deleted the material on the advice of two Texas attorneys she had retained to file suit against Cisneros to insure the payments continued.

Jankowski told the court Jones destroyed the original tapes after making copies of the edited versions.

Jones testified that Cisneros agreed to pay her $4,000-a-month after their affair was made public and her husband sought a divorce. She said Cisneros agreed to pay her until her daughter, then 10, finished college.

Fearing his government income would not be enough to support her, Jones told the court she began recording their conversations after it became clear Cisneros would take a job in the new Clinton Administration.

Jones is now serving a prison sentence in Texas for lying to Independent Counsel David Barrett about the authenticity of the tapes, and other charges.

Cisneros, who served as HUD secretary during President Bill Clinton's first term, was indicted in 1997 for conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and making false statements to the FBI about his payments to Jones.

While Cisneros admits to making payments to Jones he denies he did anything illegal.


Judge asked to remove ex-lover from case against Cisneros (4-24-99)

Cisneros pleads not guilty (1-8-98)

Cisneros Indicted (12-11-97)

Cisneros steps aside as HUD secretary (11-21-96)

Home searched in Cisneros probe (9-18-96)


Monday, June 21, 1999

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