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Former Lawmaker Faces Charges in House Post Office Investigation

October 19, 1994| Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Former Rep. Joseph P. Kolter was indicted Tuesday on charges that he obtained $11,000 in personal cash from the House post office and billed his office account for $33,000 worth of jewelry, luggage and other personal items from a congressional stationery store.

Kolter, a Pennsylvania Democrat defeated in the 1992 primary after 10 years in the House, was the second current or former House member indicted in the federal investigation of the House post office scandal.

Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.), former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, was charged in a 17-count indictment May 31. He is accused of converting $636,600 in federal funds and $56,267 in campaign funds to his personal use.

Kolter was charged in a five-count grand jury indictment with conspiracy, embezzlement and concealing material facts.

Alan Baron, Kolter's attorney, said the former lawmaker "has maintained throughout that he has done nothing wrong, and we intend to plead not guilty and proceed to trial."

But first, Baron said, Kolter will challenge the indictment on grounds that only the House has the constitutional authority to judge a lawmaker's behavior while performing official duties. Rostenkowski mounted a similar challenge, but lost that motion in U.S. District Court last week. His lawyers said they would appeal.

The indictment said Kolter obtained $11,000 in cash by disguising his transactions at the post office as stamp purchases for official purposes. Between 1985 and 1990, the indictment said, Kolter instructed then-House Postmaster Robert Rota to give him cash in exchange for vouchers and stamps.

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