James Watt charged with felonies

  A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., has indicted former Interior Department Secretary James Watt for lying to Congress and obstructing an investigation of fraud and influence peddling at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Federal prosecutor Arlin Adams says that after Watt left the Reagan cabinet in 1983, he earned $500,000 for interceding with top HUD officials and winning his clients lucrative housing contracts. He allegedly lied about his consulting activities to a congressional panel and a grand jury in 1989, then withheld documents for more than four years that contradicted his testimony. The 25 counts of perjury, unlawful concealment, and obstruction of justice are felony charges that each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine. Federal prosecutors said their investigation of Watt has already made it possible for HUD to recover almost $10 million in low-income housing funds. Watt denies any wrongdoing. - Anders Halverson
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