Elderly Seek Refunds From LaRouche

The Washington Post/May 23, 1990
By Alison Howard

Lawyers for an elderly Gettysburg, Pa., man who gave more than $260,000 to political extremist Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. have moved to seize the money from LaRouche accounts at financial institutions in Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

Eleven garnishment summonses were filed Monday in Loudoun County Circuit Court in Leesburg and served Monday and yesterday at eight banks and three brokerages in Falls Church, Fairfax, McLean, Sterling and Leesburg.

A federal judge in Harrisburg, Pa., ruled in January that LaRouche associates used "misrepresentations" two years ago to obtain four stock certificates worth $261,039.75 from Elmer Yoder, of Gettysburg, then 88.

In his order, Judge William W. Caldwell said Yoder suffered from "degenerative dementia" and "lacked the mental capacity" to manage his assets. Caldwell said Yoder did not know the names of the group to which he was giving stock or the names of the fund-raisers who "misinformed" him that his gifts were tax deductible.

Yoder sued to recover the money after his children discovered the transaction and local police investigated. The judge's order was entered against two LaRouche fund-raisers, Michael Billington and Laurence Hecht, and two Loudoun-based LaRouche groups, the Executive Intelligence Review and its news service.

Billington has been convicted of federal mail fraud and state securities fraud in connection with raising funds for LaRouche.

According to William Mims, Yoder's Leesburg attorney, the summonses effectively freeze any accounts in the defendants' names or in the names of several other LaRouche enterprises. The financial institutions have until July 6 to report whether such accounts exist and how much is in them.

The group has operated, Mims said, under more than 40 names, "and we will simply have to see whether the names we have given them" turn up accounts.

Dana Scanlon, spokeswoman for the LaRouche organization, said, "I think this is simply one more part of the local, state and federal government effort . . . to shut down a political movement for the last several years."

"This is simply an attempt to collect upon the judgment that a 90-year-old man received in federal court," Mims said. "It is no more and no less . . . . "

In a related development, the lawyer for another LaRouche fund-raiser, Rochelle Ascher, has asked for a special prosecutor to investigate an elderly Pennsylvania woman who is trying to recover the $740,000 she said she gave to Ascher and other LaRouche fund-raisers over the last year.

Ascher has been free on bond while she appeals her conviction last April in the securities case for soliciting loans for LaRouche, knowing that the lenders would not be repaid. Last week, the state Attorney General's Office moved to revoke her bond on grounds that she has used "undue influence" to raise donations.

Among contributors who say they were pressured by Ascher is Helen Overington, 82, of Waynesboro, Pa. She wrote to Ascher in March, saying, "I plan to pursue whatever legal action is necessary to recover my property, including answering questions in court about the LaRouche organization and persons with whom I dealt . . . . If a substantial amount of my property is returned, this matter can be dropped."

In a motion filed Monday in Loudoun County Circuit Court, Ascher's lawyer, John P. Flannery II, alleged that the demand is an attempt "to extort monies from {Ascher} in exchange for not testifying against her . . . . "

Flannery also alleged that Overington, her family and law enforcement officials "have continued to orchestrate her threats through various media contacts."

Overington's attorney, Lynne Y. MacBride, could not be reached for comment.

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