Arrow-right Camera


Lawmaker’s Husband Surrenders To Face Investigation Into Finances Man Suspected Of Check-Kiting, Breaking Election Finance Laws

Six days after mysteriously disappearing, Joseph Waldholtz, the husband of Rep. Enid Waldholtz, R-Utah, surrendered to federal authorities here Friday to face a swirl of allegations about questionable financial practices by him and his estranged wife.

Accompanied by a lawyer, Joseph Waldholtz, 32, walked into the U.S. Attorney’s office just after 11:30 a.m. and turned himself in to waiting FBI agents as part of a deal reached with prosecutors late Thursday.

Under that agreement, approved Friday by a federal judge, Waldholtz was released to the custody of a friend living in a Philadelphia suburb, but must severely limit his travel, surrender his passport and make daily telephone contact with an FBI agent. Although the name of the custodian in the case was sealed by the court, sources identified him as Jeffrey A. Liebmann, who knows Waldholtz from Pennsylvania political activities

At a hearing before U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, Waldholtz appeared somber and fatigued, his voice barely audible as he addressed the court. “Absolutely,” he said when asked by Sullivan whether he agreed to the passport stipulation of his release.

Sullivan ordered Waldholtz to return to court Wednesday for a status hearing on whether he will testify before a grand jury scheduled to convene that day to investigate allegations of financial impropriety.

Attorneys in the case said that Waldholtz has concerns about possible self-incrimination and would determine over the next several days whether he will invoke his Fifth Amendment right or testify before the panel. Waldholtz is expected to receive a grand jury subpoena before Wednesday.

Since vanishing last Saturday from National Airport, where he gave his brother-in-law the slip, Waldholtz took a train to Springfield, Mass., and spent two nights in a hotel. From there he took a train back to Philadelphia, where he checked into a hotel for another two nights. He then spent the last two nights of his disappearance at Liebmann’s suburban home. Waldholtz was under “very intense and very acute personal pressures,” attorney Harvey A. Sernovitz said. “He needed space to get his thoughts together.”

The husband of the freshman congresswoman, once considered a rising star in the GOP-controlled 104th Congress, was wanted in a federal arrest warrant as a material witness in the grand jury probe. In an affidavit, the FBI alleged that Joseph Waldholtz, described by friends as living a lavish lifestyle, was involved in a classic check-kiting scheme in which he wrote checks for $228,000 more than their account actually held.

Federal investigators also want to know the source of $1.8 million in campaign money that paid for the last-minute advertising blitz that helped Enid Waldholtz win the election. Justice Department sources said she has told them her husband claimed the funds came from a legal swap of assets, in which he gave Enid Waldholtz’s father a $5 million family trust fund that contained mostly real estate holdings, in exchange for money. Joseph Waldholtz’s father, however, has said that no such family trust existed.