November 16, 1995 in Nation/World

Baffling Turnabout Utah Political Couple Picture Perfect ‘Til Now

Los Angeles Times
 

Joseph Waldholtz was by his wife’s side throughout her 27-hour labor last August as freshman Rep. Enid Greene Waldholtz, R-Utah, struggled to become only the second member of Congress in history to have a child while in office.

With his natural promoter’s instinct, the exuberant Joe Waldholtz called Salt Lake City radio and television stations with hourly updates on his wife’s progress.

After the birth, he arranged for a beaming bedside news conference to present the very picture of happy Young Republicans in love.

Today, a scant 11 weeks after that blissful scene captivated all of Utah, Joe Waldholtz is on the lam, Enid is holed up in her Georgetown home filling out divorce papers and all of Washington is spellbound by the guessing game of “Where’s Waldholtz?”

Federal authorities late Wednesday issued a warrant for the 32-year-old Waldholtz’s arrest as a material witness in a grand jury investigation into “possible bank fraud schemes” in Washington and Salt Lake City.

According to an FBI affidavit accompanying the warrant, Waldholtz allegedly employed a check-kiting scheme to plunder the couple’s bank accounts of as much as $2 million.

The gregarious 300-pound politico who won the love and confidence of a rising Utah Republican star is now denounced by his soon-to-be-former wife for “an incredible level of deception.”

She has demanded his arrest and punishment for his personal and pecuniary betrayal.

His father, a Pittsburgh dentist, said he is “completely baffled” by his son’s behavior and professes to have no idea where he is.

But his cousin charged that, among Waldholtz’s other misdeeds, was the looting of more than $600,000 from their incapacitated 86-year-old grandmother’s trust fund. The cousin said he is worried about Waldholtz - and that he hopes the FBI collars him quickly.

Authorities, tracking Waldholtz’s money machine withdrawals, originally thought he was headed for Canada after giving his wife and her brother-in-law the slip at Washington’s National Airport last weekend. He took them to the airport purportedly to meet the executors of his family’s trust funds and then vanished, taking the car keys with him.

“There were no trustees, no nothing,” said Charles H. Roistacher, Enid Waldholtz’s lawyer. “It was another of Joe’s fraudulent actions.”

Enid Waldholtz closed the account immediately, and his trail has gone cold since. Federal officials now admit they have no idea where he is.

Joe Waldholtz’s family and friends are concerned for his safety but something less than surprised by the latest twist in a life marked by bounced checks, unpaid credit card bills and prodigal spending of other people’s money.

“The longer he’s gone there’s just more suffering,” said Russ Behrmann, a friend of Waldholtz who succeeded him as executive director of the Utah Republican Party. “But there will be a reckoning one way or another. And it’s better for everyone if that reckoning happens sooner rather than later.”

In the meantime, Rep. Waldholtz - who is petitioning a Salt Lake City court to have her maiden name restored - must contend with a landlord who is threatening to evict her because Waldholtz repeatedly paid the $3,800-a-month rent with rubber checks.

The Waldholtzes have lived in an $800,000 townhouse in Georgetown that was once owned by former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger.

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