montblanc ballpoint pen refill Lawmaker Indicted in Post Office Scandal
In the latest spinoff from the House post office scandal, a Federal grand jury today indicted Joseph P. Kolter, a former Democratic Representative from Pennsylvania, on five felony charges, accusing him of embezzling more than $44,000 in Congressional money for his personal use.
Mr. Kolter, an accountant and one time high school teacher, represented the Fourth Congressional District outside Pittsburgh for 10 years until he was defeated in a primary in 1992.
He is the second House member to be indicted in connection with a long running Federal inquiry into the House post office, which has so far resulted in eight guilty pleas, mostly by low level employees. The investigation is being conducted by the United States Attorney’s office here.
The first lawmaker to be charged was Representative Dan Rostenkowski, the Illinois Democrat who was forced to relinquish the chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee after he was indicted on 17 felony counts on May 31. Mr. Rostenkowski has pleaded not guilty.
The indictment accuses Mr. Kolter of some of the same illegal conduct that prosecutors said Mr. Rostenkowski engaged in. But lawyers who have followed the inquiry said the two cases were separate, with no indication that either lawmaker knew of the other’s activities.
The indictment says Mr. Kolter illegally obtained more than $11,000 from 1985 through 1990 by disguising cash payments from the House post office as stamp purchases by his Congressional office. Mr. Kolter dealt with Robert V. Rota, the former House Postmaster, who has pleaded guilty and has cooperated with the prosecution.
The indictment also accuses Mr. Kolter of taking more than $33,000 worth of merchandise bought from the House stationary store with money from his Congressional office supply account. It charged that from 1986 to 1991, Mr. Kolter obtained 650 pieces of china and glassware, 40 watches and clocks, 30 Mont Blanc pens, 30 pieces of luggage and 2 gold necklaces.
Mr. Baron said Mr. Kolter would try to persuade the courts to dismiss the indictment using the same constitutional arguments used by Mr. Rostenkowski. He said he was undaunted by the refusal of the judge in Mr. Rostenkowski’s case to overturn the indictment last week.