Former Congressman Indicted on Fraud Charges

A former congressman collected $55,000 in bogus consulting fees last year after he was already charged with bilking banks and clients out of more than $10 million, authorities said Thursday.

Edward M. Mezvinsky, 65, was indicted on a single count of wire fraud and two counts of mail fraud for allegedly promising to help Patricia Stein of Salisbury, Md., obtain certification as a minority contractor in New York and New Jersey. Mezvinsky also allegedly promised to help her husband, Gregory Stein, obtain $1.5 million in financing for his companies.

The Steins ikely (the new charges) would have an effect," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Zauzmer. "But we still think it is important to hold people responsible for their criminal conduct."

Mezvinsky's attorney, Thomas A. Bergstrom, was out of the office Thursday and did not immediately return a phone message. Bergstrom has said that Mezvinsky's actions are the result of a "serious mental illness" and that dealing with him is essentially "advanced child care."

Mezvinsky represented Iowa from 1973 to 1977, when he accepted a position as the U.S. representative on the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. He was later involved in several international business ventures, including an alleged African pyramid scheme that cost him millions. Money for the scheme came from friends and family, including $309,000 from his ailing mother-in-law, authorities said.

Mezvinsky ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 1980 and spent millions on an unsuccessful run for attorney general in 1988. He is married to one-time television newswoman and former U.S. Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, D-Pa., who served from 1993 to 1995. She has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

Both are named in lawsuits alleging they owe $7.4 million to banks and individuals, and they have filed for bankruptcy protection.