Posted: Feb. 11, 2004
BLEVINS PLEADS GUILTY TO A
By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer
Roger D. Blevins III
acknowledged Wednesday in federal court he had betrayed the trust of
U.S. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. by bilking his Democratic patron out
of more than $400,000 in campaign funds.
Blevins, a familiar
behind-the-scenes figure in Democratic Party circles, was
functioning as an assistant campaign treasurer when he siphoned off
Biden's accounts for a spending spree on people he met on the
Internet as well as on luxury items, including a Porsche, a BMW
convertible, a plasma-screen television, trips to Florida and other
travel expenses, according to federal prosecutors.
In a short proceeding before
U.S. District Judge Gregory M. Sleet, Blevins pleaded guilty to two
felony counts, the first for interstate transfer of stolen property
for wiring money out of state and the second for aiding and abetting
the making of a false statement by filing a federal campaign finance
report that covered up the looting.
For the first count, the
maximum penalty is up to 10 years imprisonment and as much as a
$250,000 fine. For the second count, it is up to 5 years
imprisonment and as much as a $250,000 fine. Sleet set sentencing
for June 18.
Blevins, 33, of Elsmere,
appeared in court as calm and matter-of-fact as usual. He was clean
shaven and wore a blue shirt and tie, dark slacks and sneakers.
When Sleet asked him to tell
what he had done in his own words, Blevins rattled off his answer so
swiftly and softly that the judge stopped him and told him to speak
more distinctly. Still talking in a low voice, Blevins said he had
taken funds for his personal use and provided false statements.
After the court hearing,
Blevins declined to explain any further, and it is still largely a
mystery why something so seemingly out of character was committed by
a quiet eccentric whose biggest vice was regarded as the exaggerated
tales he spun about himself to liven up the series of low-level jobs
he held at Democratic Party headquarters, Legislative Hall and
In contrast to the secret,
yearlong spending extravaganza, which Assistant U.S. Attorney April
M. Byrd said lasted from July 2002 to July 2003, Blevins was known
for his bargain-basement clothes and old car.
In front of Sleet, he seemed
like the small-living Blevins of old, represented by Penny Marshall,
a court-appointed federal public defender, who said his family was
supporting him because his recent notoriety was preventing him from
getting a job.
Federal law enforcement
officials still are working to recover the money taken from Biden's
campaign, according to Byrd. Already in one case, $10,000 was
returned by acquaintances to whom Blevins had given the money as a
wedding present. They had not cashed his check when the news about
him broke, and they contacted the FBI to turn over the money, Byrd
Blevins was arrested in July
after the funds were discovered missing from Biden's accounts. In a
recent filing with the Federal Election Commission, the campaign
reported a balance of $323,637 as of Dec. 31, and Biden's office
appeared not to want to dwell on the episode.
John T. Dorsey, the
senator's former state director who is now a lawyer with Young
Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, was in court to monitor the proceedings
but not to talk about it. Margaret Aitken, the press secretary for
Biden, simply said in a telephone interview, "We're happy to see
this will soon be resolved."
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