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Justice Dept. Agrees To Let Christopher J. Ward Sell Bethesda Home

The Justice Dept. will not oppose an effort by Christopher J. Ward, who allegedly embezzled more than $725,000 from the National Republican Congressional Committee, to sell his Bethesda, Md., home, leading some GOP insiders to suspect Ward may soon reach a plea deal with federal prosecutors.

No plea agreement with Ward has been reached just yet, according to sources close to the case, but the Justice Dept. and attorneys for Ward and his wife, Amanda, (who are using different lawyers) have agreed to allow the Wards to sell their home, which has an assessed value of more than $650,000. Christopher Ward took out a $430,000 loan from WMC Mortgage Corp. in April 2002.

In a joint filing last Friday in federal court in the District of Columbia, the Justice Department agreed to postpone a scheduled response from the Wards to the prosecutors' attempt to seize their home. DOJ lawyers filed their claim against the Ward's home back on June 6.

Ward used more than $150,000 diverted from the NRCC and other GOP committees that he served as treasurer for to pay for renovations to his home, according to legal filings by DOJ. Ward also used reportedly stolen funds to pay his mortgage, states a DOJ filing.

Ward would have to pay off his mortgage first, and any leftover funds could then go to the government or be split between the Wards, or used in whatever way the parties decide, said legal experts. Ward could use the money to repay funds he allegedly diverted from the NRCC and other committees he oversaw. Ward has not been charged with any criminal wrongdoing at this time.