Federal Judge Refuses to Overturn Whitewater Conviction of Arkansas Ex-Governor

A federal judge on Monday upheld the Whitewater (search) fraud conviction of former Gov. Jim Guy Tucker (search), rejecting his claim that the government withheld information about benefits afforded a key witness.

In a telephone interview Monday, Tucker said he wouldn't make a decision to appeal the ruling until after he had reviewed it and sought counsel from his attorney.

The decision by U.S. District Judge George Howard Jr. was the latest ruling in the long-running Whitewater saga, the Arkansas land deal that also involved Bill and Hillary Clinton (search).

Tucker's appeal attacked the credibility of David Hale, who was the primary witness in the government's case against Tucker and James and Susan McDougal. The McDougals were business partners with the Clintons in the Whitewater partnership.

Tucker claimed Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr knew that Hale was receiving assistance from people who opposed him and President Clinton, and failed to disclose the aid. At the time, the FBI and the Office of Independent Counsel were supervising Hale.

Tucker was convicted on bank fraud and conspiracy charges and sentenced to 18 months home detention.

In a 47-page decision, Howard wrote that Tucker failed to show a reason to set aside the sentence but even if he had provided evidence to back his claim, "it would not in the least have changed the outcome of the trial."

Howard noted that jurors split on the indictment's allegations against Tucker and acquitted the ex-governor on charges that relied solely on Hale's testimony.

The judge also rejected Tucker's claim that Starr was biased against him because Starr had once represented the Republican National Committee. Tucker is a Democrat.

Tucker resigned in July 1996, six weeks after his conviction, and later pleaded guilty in an unrelated tax case. He was disbarred and claimed in his motion that his resulting inability to practice law or work at a financial institution prevents him from seeking employment in his field.