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At a lavish yacht party in Florida, Sen. Harrison...

By
DAN COLLINS

NEW YORK -- At a lavish yacht party in Florida, Sen. Harrison Williams urged an undercover FBI agent to finance a titanium mine in which the senator held a secret interest, the agent testified Tuesday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward McDonald charged that Williams, a New Jersey Democrat, promised to use his influence with President Carter to obtain government contracts for the titanium mine.

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The charges against Williams, the only senator indicted in the two-year FBI undercover probe of political corruption, came on the opening day of Williams' Abscam bribery-conspiracy trial in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.

Williams 'asked me to finance it,' testified FBI agent John McCarthy. McCarthy said the proposal was made aboard a yatch at Delray Beach, Fla., in 1979. At the time McCarthy was posing as a representative for 'Abdul Enterprises,' a phony company created by the FBI.

Williams and other targets of the Abscam sting were told the purpose of the company was to invest money for wealthy Arab businessmen and royalty.

McCarthy testifed Williams was introduced to him aboard the yatch. The agent also identified a photo of Williams and 'Sheik Yassir Habib,' a second undercover FBI agent who posed as a wealthy Arab interested in investing money in the titanium venture.

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The party was a testimonial in honor of Camden, N.J., Mayor Angelo Errichetti. Errichetti was indicted with Williams, but is being tried separately.

McCarthy was the first government witness to testify at Williams' Abscam bribery-conspiracy trial.

Testimony is scheduled to resume Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

McCarthy said the proposal was made aboard a yacht at Delray Beach, Fla., in 1979. At the time McCarthy was posing as a representative for 'Abdul Enterprises,' a phony company created by the FBI.

Williams and other targets of the Abscam sting were told that the purpose of the company was to invest money for wealthy Arab businessmen and royalty.

McCarthy testifed that Williams was introduced to him aboard the yatch. The agent also identified a photo of Williams and 'Sheik Yassir Habib,' a second undercover FBI agent who posed as a wealthy Arab interested in investing money in the titanium venture.

The party was a testimonial in honor of Camden, N.J., Mayor Angelo Errichetti, who was indicted with Williams but is being tried separately.

McCarthy was the first government witness to testify at Williams' Abscam bribery-conspiracy trial.

Testimony was scheduled to resume Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

McDonald said Williams, 'with great pleasure, promised to talk to the president of the United States about it (the mine) in a personal way.'

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He said Williams made the promise in a 1979 meeting with an FBI agent posing as an Arab sheik who pledged to invest $100 million in the mining venture.

Williams, 61, is charged with using his position as a senator to obtain government contracts for a titanium mine and processing facility in which he held a concealed 18 percent interest.

Titanium is a lightweight metal used in the manufacture of missiles, aircraft and submarines.

Williams also is charged with promising to use his influence to assist the bogus sheik to obtain permanent residency in the United States.

'I will do everything in my power to advance your permanancy,' McDonald quoted Williams as saying to the sheik in another meeting, Jan. 15, 1980.

Williams, a 22-year Senate veteran, is the seventh and last member of Congress to be prosecuted in connection with the government's Abscam investigation.

The other six defendants, all members of the House of Representatives, were convicted.

McDonald described a series of meetings in 1978, 1979 and 1980 in which Williams and a co-defendant, Alexander Feinberg, a lawyer of Cherry Hill, N.J., allegedly arranged to receive Arab investments in exchange for the senator's promises of government contracts.

Williams, dressed in a conservative gray business suit, looked on impassively as McDonald called him 'a corrupt public official.'

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The government plans to introduce portions of 25 audio and video tapes of meetings between the defendants and FBI agents.

Williams' attorney, George J. Koelzer, told the jury in his opening statement that the defense might introduce more than 100 government tapes as evidence.

'The best evidence you will hear will be the very tapes' made by the government, he said.

Koelzer asserted the government had, in effect, manufactured a criminal conspiracy from what was actually an innocent business dealing.

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