- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 12, 2003

NEW ORLEANS, March 12 (UPI) — Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke was sentenced Wednesday to 15 months in prison and fined $10,000 on charges of mail fraud and making a false statement on a federal income tax return.

Duke, 52, pleaded guilty to the charges Dec. 18 in a plea bargain with federal authorities after returning from a three-year lecture tour of Europe. He will report to federal prison April 15.

Duke said little to reporters as he left the courthouse.

"After I'm out from under the jaws of the federal government, I will have a lot to say about the matter," he said.

U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon also ordered Duke to cooperate with the Internal Revenue Service to settle his civil tax obligation.

Duke understated his gross income on his 1998 federal income tax return, stating his income was $18,831 when in fact it was $65,034. He later engaged in a scheme to solicit money from his followers, claiming he was near poor financial shape.

"Misrepresentations included the threatened loss of Duke's home, the loss of his savings, and his claim of financial ruin which would be caused by a pending lawsuit against him," according to the federal charge. "In truth and in fact, the defendant voluntarily sold his home for a profit. Further, the defendant held numerous investment accounts which at times contained substantial sums of money despite his representations to the contrary."

Duke admitted in court in December that he actually used large portions of the money he solicited for casino gambling.

Duke, a grand wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s, returned to the United States last year after promoting his National Organization for European American Rights in Europe.

Duke was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives in 1988 and served one term. He later ran unsuccessfully for offices ranging from U.S. president to governor of Louisiana and U.S. senator.

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