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Ex-Klan leader Duke back in U.S. • Tuesday December 17, 2002

His attorney seeks to negotiate with prosecutors
AP, Dec. 16, 2002

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AP) — David Duke has returned to the United States and will be talking with federal prosecutors about a plea bargain to criminal charges, his attorney said Monday.

Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader who ran for governor and the U.S. Senate a decade ago, has been visiting his seriously ill father in New Jersey and plans to return to his home in Mandeville, north of New Orleans, defense attorney James McPherson said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“One of the reasons David came back is to see if we can cut a deal,” McPherson said. “It’s hard to negotiate when your client is out of the country.”

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten declined to comment.

Duke has been out of the country for nearly three years, lecturing and speaking in Russia and other European countries. Duke won a Louisiana House seat in 1988 but lost runoffs for the U.S. Senate in 1990 and governor in 1991.

McPherson said the government’s inquiry involves two areas: possible income tax violations involving the $100,000 sale of a list of Duke supporters to Gov. Mike Foster in 1995, and mail fraud allegations stemming from how Duke spent money from contributors.

No formal charges have been filed, though a grand jury investigated the sale of the supporters’ list several years ago.

McPherson said Duke initially did not pay income taxes for the list sale because of an accountants’ error. Duke later filed an amended tax return, the lawyer said.

Duke had just started a speaking tour in Russia in January 2000 when federal agents raided his home in Mandeville. A search warrant, based on testimony from confidential informants, alleged Duke took hundreds of thousands of dollars he solicited from supporters and gambled the money away at casinos.

“Knowing what I know about the Duke case, if I were on the jury, I would vote not guilty,” McPherson said. “But I conceive that some jurors would convict him because of who he is. They’re not supposed to do that, but that’s a reality you have to face in the courtroom.”

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