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Susan McDougal Gets Good News

With her embezzlement trial approaching its end, Whitewater figure Susan McDougal received some good news, reports CBS News Correspondent David Dow.

California Superior Court Judge Leslie Light dismissed three of the 12 counts against her and ruled that McDougal be charged with stealing $50,000 instead of $150,000 from her former employers.

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The judge said it is "certainly possible" that McDougal could have embezzled the full amount. However, he said he felt that the charges had not been proven. In a hearing outside the jury's presence, the judge noted that proof beyond a reasonable doubt would be necessary to find such a figure.

The real effect of the judge's ruling is a reduction in McDougal's potential prison sentence to four years instead of seven, if she is convicted of all the remaining counts.

The charges stem from McDougal's work as an assistant and bookkeeper for conductor Zubin Mehta and his wife, Nancy, for three years.

The three counts dismissed included two of making a false financial statement and one of using a forged or revoked bank card.

There had been no evidence that McDougal misrepresented herself when she applied for a credit card in her name and that of Mrs. Mehta, the judge said. There also was no evidence presented that the card had been forged, expired, or revoked when McDougal used it.

The defense has argued that Mrs. Mehta permitted employees to write checks and use credit cards to make personal purchases or buy things for her.

The embezzlement case is unrelated to the Whitewater probe involving President Clinton, Ms. McDougal and her late ex-husband, James McDougal.

Ms. McDougal spent nearly two years in jail for her refusal to cooperate with the Whitewater grand jury in Arkansas.

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