BOSTON — A federal judge has ruled the government can collect more than $21 million in contempt of court fines against four organizations of political extremist Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr., according to court papers that were obtained Friday.
The decision means the government can start seizing assets of the organizations, two of which are under federal indictment in an alleged credit card scam, U.S. Atty. Robert S. Mueller said.
He refused to say if authorities had begun taking such steps concerning the fines, which have piled up over 17 months.
A LaRouche spokeswoman said the corporations probably would try to obtain a stay of the order by U.S. District Judge A. David Mazzone. An attorney for one of the corporations declined comment.
Caucus Distributors Inc., Fusion Energy Foundation, National Democratic Policy Committee and Campaigner Publications Inc. were cited for contempt of court in March, 1985, by Mazzone for refusing to comply with subpoena requests in the federal investigation of the alleged credit card scheme.
Mazzone fined each group $10,000 a day. Subsequent fines have raised the daily total to $55,000 a day, Mueller said. The organizations have refused to pay.
In September, federal prosecutors asked Mazzone to grant permission to begin collecting the $21.4 million in fines that accrued between April 9, 1985, and Sept. 1, 1986. Mazzone granted that request in a partial summary judgment.
Caucus Distributors and Campaigner Publications are among five LaRouche organizations and 13 associates under indictment. Fusion Energy and the National Democratic Policy Committee are not charged.
Prosecutors accused the corporations of "deliberately refusing to comply" with the subpoenas and "blatantly" disregarding the court's contempt citations.
Mazzone, in a five-page order dated Tuesday but not received by lawyers until Friday, said evidence showed subpoenaed records were destroyed and others withheld.
Mazzone, in making his ruling, relied in part on an affidavit of an undercover FBI agent who said she saw index cards in the offices of Caucus Distributors that were under subpoena but not turned over to the federal grand jury.
The judge said the organizations never disputed in court documents the agent's affidavit, and he therefore granted the government's request to seize assets.
Matthew Feinberg, a Boston attorney who represents Caucus Distributors, refused to comment on the order.