ROGER CLINTON acknowledged to FBI he lobbied for pardon of crime boss, newspaper reports

Sunday, August 26th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Roger Clinton lobbied parole officials for five years to pardon a convicted heroin trafficker who prosecutors allege is an associate of the Gambino crime family, according to a report in Sunday's New York Times.

Clinton told FBI investigators that Tommy Gambino, Rosario Gambino's son, had told him ``we will take care of you'' if he won his father's release from prison.

Clinton, the half brother of former President Clinton, said he understood that meant he would be financially rewarded.

``I'm not stupid,'' Roger Clinton told the agents during an interview in 1999 at his home in Redondo Beach, Calif. The conversation formed part of the agents' notes, which was among records and documents the Times obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

Gambino, who is serving a 45-year sentence for the drug conviction, did not receive a pardon from the president. Prosecutors have repeatedly alleged he is an associate of the Gambino crime family and a distant relative of Carlo Gambino, the late crime boss.

Roger Clinton's lobbying efforts are part of congressional and federal investigations into last-minute pardons and commutations by President Clinton, who issued 177 of them his last day in office. None of the people for whom his brother had lobbied received a pardon.

In the past, Roger Clinton has repeatedly denied that he received any payments for pardon requests.

However, he acknowledged to agents that he'd accepted a Rolex watch, plane tickets to Washington, expense money from Tommy Gambino and a $50,000 loan to buy a house. At the time of the FBI interview, bank records showed Tommy's sister Anna had signed a check for $50,000 for Clinton, the Times reported.

Clinton made at least four visits from 1996 to 1999 to the parole commission's headquarters in Chevy Chase, Md., to meet with officials on behalf of Tommy Gambino, the Times reported.

Roger Clinton's lawyer Bart H. Williams said he was not surprised to hear that Mr. Clinton's brand of advocacy stirred consternation at the commission.

``That's the kind of guy Roger is,'' Williams told the Times. ``Once he is engaged in something, he's a pretty passionate guy.''

Clinton told the FBI agents in the 1999 interview that he felt a bond with the younger Gambino. Clinton said the two men were introduced at a club in Beverly Hills, Calif., by an acquaintance in the music business and that he identified with Tommy Gambino's struggle to get through life without a father while being judged by his family name.