PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Former U.S. Rep. Edward M. Mezvinsky, charged with swindling banks and clients out of $10.4 million, will plead innocent by reason of insanity to fraud charges, according to defense papers filed in federal court.
Lawyer Mark E. Cedrone notified U.S. District Judge Stuart Dalzell that Mezvinsky, 64, would raise the insanity defense based on a long history of mental illness, ``most likely bipolar disorder,'' the Philadelphia Daily News reported Thursday.
``Essentially, Mr. Mezvinsky takes the position that even though he may have engaged in much (although not all) of the conduct attributed to him in the indictment,'' he did not intend to defraud anyone, the lawyer wrote in papers filed Tuesday.
Mezvinsky, who represented Iowa from 1973 to 1977, is married to former U.S. Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, D-Pa., who served from 1993 to 1995.
Cedrone said the illness affected his client's judgment, blinding him from the risks associated with a financial scheme that Mezvinsky allegedly entered into with con artists from Africa. He blamed Mezvinsky's mental problems on the use of the anti-malaria drug Lariam, which Mezvinsky apparently took on business trips to the country.
``Due to Mr. Mezvinsky's mental illness, he did not appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct and consequently, was legally insane,'' Cedrone wrote.
Mezvinsky was indicted in March on 66 counts of fraud and related charges. The next day, he filed a lawsuit in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court alleging that Lariam contributed to his mental problems.
Since 1999, Mezvinsky and his wife have been the target of lawsuits alleging they owe at least $7.4 million to banks and individuals. Margolies-Mezvinsky has not been charged with any criminal wrongdoing. Both have filed for bankruptcy.