August 16, 2005

Former Arkansas governor loses appeal bid

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (Reuters) - A federal appeals court
ruled on Tuesday that former Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker
cannot withdraw his guilty plea in a tax law violation related
to the Whitewater investigation into his predecessor, former
President Bill Clinton.

Tucker pleaded guilty in 1998 to concealing from the U.S.
Internal Revenue Service the value of a cable television system
in Florida that he and two partners sold.

He later said the amount of tax owed was excessive and his
guilty plea should be set aside because the IRS conceded it
applied an outdated section of law to his case.

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the amount of fines,
restitution and tax owed by Tucker were in dispute, but not his
admission of providing false information to the government.

"He was still guilty of conspiring to impede the IRS in
collecting the income tax that would be owed on the sale of the
cable system," the appeals court held.

Prosecutors initially alleged that the conspiracy cost the
government $3.5 million in tax revenue, but later reduced the
amount to no more than $125,000.

Tucker became governor in December 1991 when fellow
Democrat Clinton resigned after being elected president.

Shortly afterward, Clinton was besieged with allegations of
financial misconduct over Whitewater and several former
associates were indicted, but Clinton himself was never charged
with any wrongdoing in the exhaustive investigation into the
failed 1970s real estate venture.