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No Retrial for 2 Bankers in Whitewater Case

September 14, 1996|From Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Two Arkansas bankers cleared last month of misusing funds to boost Bill Clinton's political career won't be retried on seven similar charges that deadlocked jurors, Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth W. Starr said Friday.

The decision to end the case against Herby Branscum Jr. and Robert M. Hill was reached after a review of the six-week trial and the evidence that would be available in a retrial, as well as interviews with the jurors, Starr said.

It was "good news for a Friday the 13th," Hill said. "I don't feel the charges should have been filed to begin with."

Branscum called it "a very good decision from the standpoint of judicial time and taxpayers' money, and my money. From the very beginning my intent has been to defend myself, because I was innocent."

A federal jury cleared the Perryville bankers Aug. 1 on four charges of misusing bank funds to help political candidates and conspiring to lie to federal regulators. A mistrial was declared on the other counts after the jurors couldn't reach a verdict.

The counts Starr asked to dismiss include charges that Branscum and Hill conspired to funnel money from the bank to political campaigns, including Clinton's 1990 gubernatorial race and his 1991 presidential exploratory committee.

In Washington, White House spokesman Mark D. Fabiani said the White House would not comment.

In another case related to Whitewater, a federal judge in Jonesboro, Ark., refused to free former Clinton business partner Susan McDougal from jail on a contempt citation Friday, keeping pressure on her to testify about President Clinton before a grand jury.

A distraught McDougal told U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright that she could not trust Starr and would talk to the grand jury only if someone other than Starr or his deputies asked the questions.

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