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Lavelle Released From Prison; Calls Self a White House Pawn

September 05, 1985|(UPI)

PLEASANTON, Calif. — Rita M. Lavelle, the former EPA official convicted of perjury in an investigation of a 1983 scandal in the Superfund toxic waste cleanup program, was freed from federal prison Wednesday, charging that she had been a pawn of the White House in a confrontation with Congress.

Lavelle, 37, who served 4 1/2 months of a 6-month sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution, was greeted by her father, Patrick, and other members of her family.

She read a statement and then headed for her father's home in Santa Barbara.

"As far as I know, I am the first woman to be destroyed in a political firestorm between the executive and legislative branches of the federal government," she said. "Election Eve politics were at stake."

In maintaining her innocence, she charged that she had been "set up and used as a scapegoat by White House and EPA officials."

"I was used as a lightning rod and a pawn of the White House and Department of Justice in the confrontation with Congress over executive privilege and EPA documents," she said. "No one should have to undergo what I underwent."

Lavelle, who was director of the Superfund program, was released early for good behavior. She will be on probation for five years.

She was convicted of making false statements, obstruction of proceedings and lying before two House subcommittees in their investigation of her role in a Southern California cleanup case involving Aerojet General Corp., her former employer, and its Stringfellow toxic waste dump in Riverside County.

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