Secord Received Two-Year Probation

Iran-Contra Middleman Pleaded Guilty to Lying to Congress

Joe Pichirallo - The Washington Post - January 25, 1990

Retired Air Force major general Richard V. Secord, who last year pleaded guilty to lying to congressional investigators, yesterday was sentenced to two years' probation after a judge said he had suffered enough "punishment" for his role as a key middleman in the Iran-Contra affair.

The chief operative for former National Security Council aide Oliver L. North in supplying munitions to the Nicaraguan contras and arms to Iran, Secord said he is, "very happy" with the sentence handed down by chief U.S. District Judge Aubrey E. Robinson Jr. Secord had faced a maximum sentence of five years in prison and $250,000 fine.

Appearing disappointed, associate independent counsel Reid Weingarten declined to comment on the sentence.

Weingarten had stopped short of asking that Secord be imprisoned, but he had urged Robinson to treat Secord more severely than North and former national security adviser Robert C. McFarlane, who were fined, sentenced to probation and ordered to perform community service for their roles in the scandal.

Weingarten said the allegations against Secord primarily centered on his efforts to conceal from investigators his profits from the Iran-Contra arms sales while North and McFarlane could be viewed as "misguided patriots."

But Robinson said Secord already had suffered and that a prison sentence was not warranted given the charge to which Secord pleaded guilty.

"I clearly regret not having been more candid with the investigators from Congress," Secord told Robinson."...I'll regret this for the rest of my life."

Secord, 57, also a former deputy assistant secretary of defense, pleaded guilty last November to a felony charge of making a false statement in a sworn deposition to congressional investigators when he denied knowing that funds from the Iran-Contra arms sales had been used to pay for a $23,800 security system at North's house.

In return for his plea, independent counsel Lawrence E. Walsh agreed to dismiss 11 other charges against Secord, including allegations that he lied to the select House and Senate Iran-Contra committees to cover up huge profits he and other middlemen allegedly made from the Iranian and Contra arms sales.

Secord is the sixth person sentenced in the Iran-Contra affair. None has received a prison sentence.

Exuding the confidence and combativeness that characterized his previous public statements, Secord said at a news conference after his sentencing that he plans to launch a nationwide fund-raising campaign that would allow him to bring a lawsuit against Walsh's office. He renewed his criticism of former president Ronald Reagan for failing to "take the heat" for the Iran-Contra affair and said he would like to host a syndicated television talk show.

Secord and Thomas C. Green, his lawyer, said Secord also would like to have some say in the disposition of an estimated $8 million to $10 million in Iran-Contra funds frozen in overseas bank accounts. Secord, who stated he is unemployed but receives about $40,000 a year from a military pension, said he would like to use the frozen funds to pay transportation, legal and other outstanding bills from the secret Contra-resupply operation he set up at North's request.

Walsh has argued that the remaining Iran-Contra profits belong to the U.S. government, but an informed source said no decision has been made on the ownership of the funds.