Fund-raiser Charlie Trie pleads guilty under plea agreement

CNN | May 21, 1999

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (AllPolitics, May 21) -- Yah Lin "Charlie" Trie, President Bill Clinton's longtime friend and a Democratic campaign fund-raiser, pleaded guilty Friday to two charges in his Little Rock, Arkansas trial as part of a plea agreement.

In exchange for his guilty pleas, and pledge to cooperate with Justice Department's campaign fund-raising investigation, federal prosecutors have agreed to drop indictments pending against Trie in Washington and Arkansas.

Under the agreement, a Washington indictment charging the Democratic fund-raiser with making illegal campaign contributions to the Democratic National Committee will also be dropped. Trie, a Taiwanese American, was accused of acting as a straw donor for Chinese business in an effort to curry favor with the U.S. president.

Trie is likely to be sentenced to three years' probation as a result of his guilty pleas, though the judge must approve the prosecutors' recommendation. The government agreed not to pursue home detention or electronic monitoring during his probation.

Trie is a key figure in the campaign scandal involving campaign donations from Asian sources to the 1996 Clinton-Gore re-election effort and other Democratic campaigns.

Trie became friends with then-Arkansas Gov. Clinton when he frequented a Chinese restaurant Trie owned near the Capitol in Little Rock.

He was charged in the Arkansas case with obstructing a Senate investigation into Democratic fund-raising activities during the 1996 election cycle.

While the more serious obstruction charge was dropped, Trie did plead guilty the felony charge of causing false statements and a misdemeanor count of making political contributions in the names of others.

Under the false statements charge, Trie admitted to causing the DNC's treasurer to submit a report to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that gave false names for donors. "I know that the DNC had the names of the wrong persons," Trie told the judge.

Trie also admitted getting other people to make campaign contributions for him -- $5,000 worth -- on February 19, 1996. "I requested that somebody else give the money for me," he said.

Clinton's defense fund and the Democratic National Committee have been forced to return more than $1 million in funds raised by Trie.