Pubdate: Tue, 03 Jun 2003
Source: State, The (SC)
Copyright: 2003 The State
Author: Jeff Stensland, Staff Writer


James Holderman Awaits Trial for Federal Count of Money Laundering

Former University of South Carolina president James B. Holderman is out of 
jail and plans to fight federal money laundering charges in court as soon 
as this month, according to his attorney.

Holderman, 67, and an alleged accomplice were arrested in March in a Miami 
hotel. The two men are accused of offering to launder $2 million in drug 
money and sell student visas to FBI agents posing as Russian mobsters.

"I'm not going to clue the government into my case, but we're going to 
fight this vigorously," said Neil Nameroff, Holderman's Miami-based lawyer. 
"This is one of the most atypical cases you'll find in federal 
jurisdiction; it's very unusual."

Holderman was released on $50,000 bail last month and has returned to 
Charleston while he awaits a trial in federal court. Nameroff said a June 
16 trial date has been set, but that could be extended.

If convicted, Holderman could face 20 years in prison.

A deal with prosecutors isn't likely. "It should be an interesting trial," 
Nameroff said.

Holderman, who was hospitalized in Miami after his arrest, could not be 
reached for comment, and Nameroff declined to give details of his medical 

Columbia attorney Joe McCulloch, who defended Holderman in previous legal 
battles, said the former USC official is "hanging in there" in the face of 
the federal charges.

"He doesn't believe he has done anything like he's been accused of doing," 
McCulloch said.

Prosecutors say Holderman and Raphael Diaz, a longtime friend and a vice 
president at Brookhaven College near Dallas, agreed to help undercover 
agents buy visas into the United States.

Prosecutors say Holderman bragged that he had contacts at the "highest 
level of the United States government" and that he also enlisted Diaz to 
help launder what they believed were drug proceeds.

The two were supposed to receive a fee of $250,000 plus 20 percent of the 
total laundered, prosecutors say. Agents had wired more than $22,000 to 
Holderman's bank account as a down payment for his services.

Diaz, a native of the Dominican Republic and former USC student, also is 
charged with conspiring to launder money and is free on bail.

According to FBI documents introduced at a pre-trial hearing, Holderman 
claims he was merely a middleman and that Diaz handled both the money 
laundering and visa requests for the undercover agents.

Still, Holderman admitted to being "stupid" for demanding a cut of the 
money and, after his arrest, told agents it was needed to help him "get 
back on his feet financially," according to the documents.

Diaz's lawyer, Joseph Rosenbaum, declined to comment on the case.

Holderman served as USC's president from 1977 to 1990 before resigning in 
disgrace over a mounting financial scandal involving university money.

He received five years' probation and was ordered to perform 500 hours of 
community service for not claiming extra income he earned as president.

He later served a 101/2-month prison sentence in 1996-97 after pleading 
guilty to eight counts of lying about his financial affairs to U.S. 
Bankruptcy Court investigators.
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