Sunday, July 9, 2006

A bankruptcy trustee for a carnival company whose owners received a pardon from President Clinton is seeking to garnish the bank accounts of Mr. Clinton’s brother-in-law to recoup more than $100,000 in loans.

Anthony D. Rodham, one of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s two brothers, got the loans from United Shows of America Inc. after its owners obtained the presidential pardon in March 2000 over the objections of the Justice Department.

Michael E. Collins, trustee for United Shows, filed papers in Alexandria bankruptcy court seeking the return of $107,000 plus $46,034 in interest from Mr. Rodham, 51, for the loans he received from the carnival company, which went bankrupt in 2002.

Mr. Rodham “received the benefit of the loans without making any repayment,” reads a related document filed last year in bankruptcy court in Nashville, Tenn.

United Shows’ owners, Edgar Gregory Jr. and his wife, Vonna Jo Gregory, were convicted of bank fraud in 1982 on charges of illegally giving loans to friends. Mr. Gregory died in 2004, within four years of the presidential pardons.

At the time Mr. Clinton pardoned the Gregorys, Mr. Rodham reportedly said he worked for Tennessee-based United Shows as a consultant and denied taking money to lobby for presidential favors.

Mr. Collins, in his June 26 bankruptcy filing, said each of 16 checks from United Shows written to Mr. Rodham had a note at the bottom indicating the payments were loans.

Mr. Rodham, known as Tony and a resident of Vienna, Va., did not return several calls seeking comment.

His being named in the bankruptcy case is the latest distraction to Mrs. Clinton’s political aspirations caused by her two younger brothers. Mrs. Clinton, a Democrat, is seeking re-election in November to her Senate seat from New York and is weighing a presidential bid in 2008.

Mr. Rodham got into a brawl in August 2001 at the Rodham family’s summer cottage in Pennsylvania with a man who said he caught Mr. Rodham having sex with the man’s girlfriend.

Mrs. Clinton’s other brother, Hugh E. Rodham Jr., intervened in that fight. Hugh Rodham, 56, also came under scrutiny for his role in Mr. Clinton’s pardons. An attorney, he returned about $400,000 he received for lobbying for a presidential pardon and prison commutation for two clients.

Both brothers were criticized in 1993 when they sought corporate contributions to pay for festivities surrounding their brother-in-law’s first inauguration.

Neither Mrs. Clinton nor the former president returned messages seeking comment on the new court filing.

According to bankruptcy court records, Tony Rodham began to receive the loan checks on May 10, 2000. The final loan of $2,500 was made on Feb. 12, 2002, about six months before United Shows filed for bankruptcy protection.

Mr. Collins won a default judgment in the Tennessee court against Mr. Rodham because Mrs. Clinton’s brother filed no legal papers to contest the matter, records show.

Mr. Collins said the recent filing in Alexandria begins the process of determining Mr. Rodham’s assets, placing liens and garnishing wages.

“The default judgment is only as good as your ability to collect on it,” he said.

United Shows also placed a judgment lien certificate against Mr. Rodham in the District, according to records in the D.C. office of the Recorder of Deeds.

If a lien on his property is enforced, creditors eventually could force a sale.

The House Government Reform Committee criticized Mr. Rodham in a 2002 report on President Clinton’s pardons. The report said he lobbied for pardons for Mr. Gregory and his wife while receiving $244,769 in salary and $79,000 in loans from the couple since 1997.

The committee report found the loans to Mr. Rodham were consolidated into a $72,000 promissory note due in December 2001.

However, there is “no evidence that Rodham has repaid this loan, and the Gregorys’ attorney informed committee staff that he believes that Rodham has not repaid the loan,” the committee report stated.

The Gregorys had sought pardons because they thought their criminal records would disqualify them from winning state carnival contracts, according to the report. The committee found that the Gregorys asked Mr. Rodham at a party in late 1999 or early 2000 for help in winning approval for their pardon applications.

“According to Edgar Gregory, Rodham gave them the impression that he could not help much with their pardon petition but that ‘if he could do anything, he would,’ ” the report said.

The committee also found Mr. Gregory had no documentation showing what kind of work Mr. Rodham performed for United Shows.

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