WASHINGTON — An aide to former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Samuel R. Pierce Jr. was indicted Wednesday on fraud, perjury and cover-up charges in the HUD influence-peddling scandal.
The six-count indictment accuses Joseph Strauss of taking more than $50,000 in payoffs from a developer and a consultant seeking millions of dollars in federal funds for a low-income housing project in Puerto Rico.
In a statement provided by his lawyer, Strauss said he is innocent.
The office of independent counsel Arlin Adams declined to say how the latest development in the investigation might affect its scrutiny of Pierce, who has not been accused of any crime.
Last month, the highest official indicted in the $2-billion scandal during the Ronald Reagan Administration--former Assistant Housing Secretary Thomas T. Demery--pleaded guilty to reduced charges of obstructing justice and accepting a gratuity.
Wednesday's indictment also accused Strauss of conspiring to cover up the Puerto Rico deal. The indictment also said Strauss perjured himself when he denied in congressional testimony that he helped make funding decisions for HUD's low-income housing rehabilitation program and when he denied soliciting future private business while at HUD.
Each count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Strauss' firm earned more than $1.3 million in fees related to HUD projects after he left his job as a special assistant to Pierce in 1983.