A top fund-raiser for Senator Clinton's 2000 campaign and self-described "dear friend" of President Clinton pleaded guilty to a felony mail fraud charge in federal court in Chicago yesterday.
James Levin, 47, admitted to involvement in a scheme to convince contracting officials at the Chicago Public Schools that his fencing companies, Tru-Link Fence and Tru-Link Commercial, were subcontracting work to businesses owned by minorities or women when, in fact, Levin was simply paying those firms for use of their names.
Levin was a key witness at the criminal trial last year of the national finance director of Mrs. Clinton's 2000 campaign, David Rosen, on charges that he caused the submission of false campaign finance reports about a star-studded fund-raising gala in Los Angeles in August 2000.
Levin told the jury in that case that the then-president assigned him to keep tabs on the hastily planned dinner and concert, which featured Cher, Paul Anka, and other celebrities.
Levin testified that Mr. Rosen knew the event went far over budget and that the finance official said "the costs of this event will never be the costs of this event ... meaning that we will never admit how much we spent on this event."
Mr. Rosen denied knowing of the cost overruns and was acquitted on all charges. A political group connected to Mrs. Clinton's campaign ultimately paid a $35,000 penalty resulting from the misreporting.
Levin, who once owned a Chicago strip club, Thee Dollhouse, testified pursuant to a plea deal with prosecutors. Under the pact, Levin will not be sentenced to more than six months in prison.
Prosecutors, who could have brought more serious charges against Levin or sought a lengthy prison term, said they will ask Judge Joan Gottschall to give him some jail time. Sentencing was set for March 28.
In 2000, Levin served on the national finance committees for Mrs. Clinton's campaign and Vice President Gore's presidential bid. His presence caused some political headaches after the Chicago Sun-Times disclosed his link to the strip club. His legal woes were not known publicly until The New York Sun reported last year that prosecutors had filed a plea agreement in connection with his planned testimony in the Rosen case.
At the Los Angeles trial, Levin described the club as a "bikini bar" and said he only owned it for a short time.