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02/05/98- Updated 11:52 AM ET

More indictments near in finance probe

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department is preparing to seek more indictments in its long-running campaign fund-raising investigation, according to law enforcement officials.

The news comes as Democratic Party fund-raiser Charlie Trie, accused of funneling illegal foreign contributions to the 1996 Clinton re-election campaign, is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday before a federal judge in Washington, D.C.

Law enforcement officials and others say that one of the people whose actions are under review is Maria Hsia (pronounced SHAW), a 46-year-old immigration consultant with ties to the Hsi Lai temple.

The southern California temple got national attention last year when it was learned that donors were illegally reimbursed for contributions they gave at a 1996 Democratic fund-raiser attended by Vice President Gore.

Justice Department lawyers are still debating whether to seek an indictment against the temple itself, law enforcement officials said.

Hsia's lawyer, Nancy Luque, could not be reached Wednesday night. She has previously said her client is innocent.

Hsia is under investigation for helping arrange for the temple to provide $5,000 to Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., according to records turned over to congressional investigators. She was also identified as one of five donors who served as conduits for the temple's secret donation.

The Justice Department is investigating whether $100,000 of the temple's money was funneled into the Democratic Party through conduits.

Trie, 49, is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday on a 15-count indictment charging him with obstruction of justice, election law violations and fraud. He surrendered to FBI agents Tuesday at Dulles International Airport after arriving from Paris. Trie, a naturalized American citizen from Taiwan, fled the country 15 months ago after emerging as a central figure in the scandal.

Despite speculation he might agree to cooperate with the investigation, there have been no serious discussions about a deal between Trie's laywer, Reid Weingarten, and the Justice Department.

Trie, a former Little Rock restaurateur and longtime friend of the Clintons, is an international business consultant. He contributed or raised $645,000 for the Democratic National Committee. Separately, he delivered more than $600,000 in contributions to Clinton's legal defense fund. The money was returned due to questions about its source.

The Justice Department said some of the campaign money came from foreign sources.

Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee said he would like to talk to Trie.

"The largest unanswered question left is 'what did he get for what he gave,' " said Burton's spokesman Will Dwyer. "The chairman has asked if American foreign policy was up for sale and if so, by whom?"

By Gary Fields and Edward T. Pound, USA TODAY



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