Posted: Feb. 11, 2004


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 Biden's campaign.

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 said.

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."