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Five-Judge Panel Urges Impeachment of Florida Jurist

October 08, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A judicial panel charged in a report released Wednesday that U.S. District Judge Alcee L. Hastings "attempted to corruptly use his office for personal gain" and recommended that the House consider impeaching him.

The report of an investigation by a five-judge panel of the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded there was "clear and convincing evidence" that the Miami jurist conspired to solicit a $150,000 bribe from two convicted racketeers in exchange for a promise of lenient sentences.

The panel also charged that in an effort to conceal the conspiracy, Hastings gave false testimony and fabricated evidence at his highly publicized trial in Miami in 1983, which resulted in his acquittal.

William A. Borders Jr., a prominent Washington lawyer and close Hastings friend, was convicted at a separate trial in 1982 of conspiring to arrange the alleged bribe from Frank and Tom Romano.

Hastings, who was nominated by President Carter in 1979 to be Florida's first black federal judge, flew here from Miami on Wednesday to pick up his copy of the report. He insisted again that he had done nothing wrong.

Hastings told reporters that if they were looking for "a smoking gun," they would be disappointed. "You ain't gonna find even a fizzling cap pistol."

The report had been forwarded to House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Tex.) in March and is being studied by lawyers for the House judiciary subcommittee on criminal justice. The House voted earlier this week to make the report public.

Reps. Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.) and F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) have introduced a resolution demanding that the House initiate impeachment proceedings against Hastings.

The judicial panel said the evidence "clearly and convincingly establishes" that Hastings conspired in 1981 to solicit a bribe in exchange for a promise to reduce the Romano brothers' three-year prison terms to probation.

The judges unanimously concluded that Hastings engaged in a conspiracy with Borders to receive a bribe.

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