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Rep. Fred Richmond: 'A one-man crime wave'

By DAN COLLINS

NEW YORK -- Millionaire Rep. Frederick Richmond, D-N.Y., facing possible indictment on a variety of charges, says the White House and a 'vendetta' by The New York Times are responsible for his legal problems.

Federal law enforcement officials have confirmed reports the Justice Department is seeking an indictment against Richmond on an income tax charge as a result of a grand jury investigation.

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He also is under investigation for charges involving campaign finance ireegularities, allegations that aides purchased drugs for him and a charge he knowingly helped a fugutive obtain a job on the House payroll.

Richmond, seeking a fifth term despite his problems, refused to discuss the investigations during an interview with United Press International, but he blamed the White House and the New York Times for his troubles.

'New York Democrats aren't exactly in vogue right now at the White House, are they?' Richmond said. 'I'm implying that if I were a conservative Republican from the Middle West, I don't think I'd have as much trouble as I have right now.'

He accused The New York Times of waging 'a personal vendetta against me.'

Richmond said the newspaper has 'singled me out to be public enemy No. 1.'

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'Sydney Schanberg (a Times editor) called me a one-man crime wave. Wonderful, isn't it?'

A spokesman for the newspaper, which has published detailed accounts of the charges against Richmond, denied any vendetta.

Richmond is running his campaign in virtual isolation. He has received no organizational support from the Democratic Party. Mayor Edward Koch and Brooklyn Democratic leader Meade Esposito urged him not to run.

'I was always there when they needed me but when I need them, they seem to have all disappeared,' Richmond said.

Koch and other Democratic leaders supported Richmond in 1978, when he admitted soliciting sex from a 16-year-old boy and an undercover police officer. Criminal charges were dropped when he agreed to seek professional treatment. He won re-election despite the incident.

Richmond's latest trouble began when a federal judge ruled he had 'feigned' retirement as president of Walco, a diversified corporation with holdings in plastics, steel forgings, paper and electric motors. He was collecting a $1 million pension from the company but, in effect, was still in charge.

Then Richmond recommended the hiring of a man subsequently identified as Earl Randolph, an escapee from a Massachusetts halfway house, for a low-level clerical job with the House.

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Randolph held the job briefly and was subsequently arrested in Manhattan by a police officer who said Randolph offered him sex for money in a car owned by Richmond.

The grand jury was attempting to determine if Richmond knew Randolph was a fugitive when he helped him get the House job.

Richmond appears reasonably confident he will be re-elected in the district made up of largely poor black and Hispanic voters.

'What do poor people want, tell me? Poor people want to be sensitively represented and God knows I've proved my ability to sensitively represent poor people,' he said.

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