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Ex-U.S. Olympic Official Charged

Former U.S. Olympic Committee official Alfredo La Mont was charged in federal court Tuesday with two counts of tax fraud in association with the Salt Lake City Olympic scandal and a separate effort for work done for on a Rome bid.

Justice Department investigator Richard N. Wiedis said La Mont has agreed to plead guilty to the counts and assist investigators in the continuing probe.

La Mont becomes the third person charged in the scandal, in which Salt Lake bid officials paid more than $1 million in cash, gifts and scholarships to members of the International Olympic Committee in an effort to host the 2002 Winter Olympics.

He is the first person who was directly employed by an Olympic entity to be charged.

La Mont resigned as the USOC senior director of international relations and protocol in January 1999.

The first charge says La Mont concealed income from the Salt Lake bid committee between 1988 and 1995. The second charge says he failed to report income he received from the Rome bid committee in 1997.

The 1997 return omitted $40,000 in income from Rome, according to court documents. Rome bid for the 2004 Summer Games but lost to Athens.

The first charge carries a maximum sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine; the second charge can bring a three-year sentence and a $100,000 fine.

Investigators say La Mont used a company called Citius, Inc. as a fictitious front to conceal income he received from the Salt Lake bid committee.

He also used pseudonyms and false signatures to conceal his relationship with Citius, investigators contend.

Charging documents made public Tuesday say La Mont agreed that he would help the Salt Lake bid committee become the U.S. nominee for the 1998 Winter Games. Those games eventually went to Nagano, Japan.

In 1995 Salt Lake City won the right to host the 2002 Winter Games. It was the city's fifth attempt.

La Mont also agreed to "obtain and provide information and services to assist the bid committee in its efforts to influence members of the IOC," the court documents say. "These efforts included funneling money to an IOC member."

La Mont was expected to appear before U.S. District Judge Dee Benson either Tuesday or Wednesday to enter his guilty pleas.

Investigators say money was funneled to La Mont through Citius for his services.

The charging document say La Mont helped create a fictitious paper trail to conceal the financial transactions between the Salt Lake bid committee and Citius.

The bid committee paid Lamont at least $48,514, the charging document says. A separate Olympic ethics report issued last year found the payments to La Mont totaled more than $63,000.

La Mont resigned his USOC post after the disclosure of a business relationship he had with Tom Welch, then-president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee.

La Mont's plea marks the third charge stemming from the Olympic bid scandal.

Businessman David Simmons pleaded guilty to a misdemenor tax violation in August 1999, admitting he illegally deducted as a business expense the salary of the son of South Korean IOC member Un Yong Kim.

The money to pay Kim's son, Jung-hoon Kim, came from the Salt Lake city bid committee.

Jung-hoon Kim was indicted a month later on charges that he lied to federal investigators and fraudulently obtained a green card. The elder Kim received a reprimand from the IOC.

La Mont's influencing efforts stretch back more than a decade. An internal USOC probe conducted last year found that in 1988 La Mont asked the USOC to wire as much as $20,000 to a Washington, D.C., bank to cover air fare and other expenses incurred by IOC members attending a meeting there.

USOC Chief Financial Officer John Samuelson said La Mont took the IOC officials shopping with the cash.

La Mont, 50, also was affiliated with ARCA Inc., another consulting company hired by the Salt Lake bid committee in 1992, according to a separate SLOC ethics report.

La Mont told the USOC that the company was owned by his wife and exported medical equipment.

But the SLOC ethics board found that ARCA received more than $18,000 from the bid committee, including $3,000 channeled through the company to Austin Sealy, an IOC member from Barbados.

Sealy said the money went to his son, who had been hired by ARCA and did not know of ARCA's affiliation with the Salt Lake bid. The IOC reprimanded Sealy.

Wiedis said he expects the Justice Department investigation to be wrapped up within a year.

By Robert Gehrke
©2000 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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