Iran-Contra special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh dies at 102

March 20, 2014 at 5:37 PM
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NICHOLS HILLS, Okla., March 20 (UPI) -- Former New York corporate lawyer Lawrence Walsh, who prosecuted several Reagan-era figures during the Iran-Contra affair, has died. He was 102.

Kevin Gordon, president of the Crowe & Dunlevy law firm where Walsh once worked, said he died Wednesday at his home in Nichols Hills, Okla., the Washington Post reported Thursday.

Walsh, a Republican stalwart whose friends called him "Ed," spent most of his career at the powerhouse law firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell, where he was a partner. In 1969, he briefly served as deputy to Henry Cabot Lodge during the Paris peace talks to end the Vietnam War.

In 1986, at age 74, then-U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese appointed Walsh as special prosecutor in the Iran-Contra affair, in which high-ranking Reagan administration figures were accused of secretly selling arms to Iran and illegally funneling the proceeds to the Contras, a rebel group fighting the Marxist government of Nicaragua.

Fourteen government officials were criminally charged -- including former national security adviser Adm. John Poindexter and Marine Corps Lt. Col. Oliver North. Eleven pleaded guilty or were convicted, however, most of the convictions were overturned on appeal and five officials -- including former defense secretary Caspar Weinberger -- were pardoned on Christmas Eve 1992 by President George H.W. Bush.

A furious Walsh said the presidential pardon had undermined the principle that "no man is above the law."

In 1997, Walsh wrote "Firewall: The Iran-Contra Conspiracy and Cover-Up" that maintained Meese was behind the coverup along with other top administration officials.

Walsh was born in Port Maitland, Nova Scotia, Jan. 8, 1912, and raised in New York City where he graduated from Columbia University and the Columbia Law School and began his long career at 24 as a special assistant attorney general.

He was selected by President Dwight Eisenhower for the federal bench in Manhattan in 1954 and three years later joined the New York district attorney's office as chief deputy overseeing selection of federal judges and the integration of Little Rock, Ark., public schools. He retired in 1981 to Oklahoma City, his wife's hometown.

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