Fund-raiser for GOP pleads guilty in case of child pornography

Delgaudio took pictures of a 16-year-old girl

April 24, 2003|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

A prominent Republican fund-raiser who once said former President Bill Clinton was "a lawbreaker and a terrible example to our nation's young people" pleaded guilty yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court to production of child pornography.

Richard Anthony Delgaudio, who was sentenced to two years' probation before judgment, admitted to taking lewd photographs of a 16-year-old girl he met in East Baltimore's Patterson Park in 2001. In some of the photos, he was engaged in sex with her, court records show.

Delgaudio, 50, of Burke, Va., is a frequent talk-radio guest and national figure in conservative politics. He is president of the Legal Affairs Council, a group that helped pay the legal bills of former Reagan administration officials Oliver L. North and Caspar W. Weinberger after they were charged in connection with the Iran-contra affair.

In his pornography case, there was additional evidence that Delgaudio took erotic images of at least one other, younger teen-ager, but that evidence was not admissible in court because police improperly stopped and searched Delgaudio, a judge ruled.

Largely because of that, prosecutor Adam C. Rosenberg offered Delgaudio a plea agreement, rather than taking the case to a jury.

"This is a satisfying outcome because it ends a lot of legal issues," Rosenberg said.

In yesterday's ruling, Judge John M. Glynn ordered Delgaudio to stay away from Patterson Park and the neighboring Butchers Hill area. The judge also publicly acknowledged Delgaudio's humiliation.

"Mr. Delgaudio has been very active in the state of Virginia and around the country. He was a respected member of the community," Glynn said. "This type of thing is a mortifying experience."

Delgaudio thanked the judge for his "good work." He is not able to appeal because of the conditions of the plea agreement.

After the hearing, Delgaudio - who is also an author of political books - refused to comment about his case.

In a letter to the judge, Delgaudio's attorneys - Bruce Fein and Howard L. Cardin - wrote that he was remorseful and did not know the girls were underage.

"He acknowledges the acute moral shortcomings of his conduct, and he will continue intense self-examination and professional and spiritual counseling," the lawyers wrote in the letter, dated yesterday.

Cardin also said he did not want to speak about the case after yesterday's hearing but described his client as "brilliant and eloquent."

Delgaudio, who has no prior record, was arrested in November 2001 with a book of obscene photographs he had taken of 15- and 16-year-old girls, according to court documents. The teen-agers went with him on several occasions to a hotel on Pulaski Highway, where they had sex and he paid them to pose in erotic positions for his camera, records show. The girls told Delgaudio their ages, according to police.

As part of his restitution to the community, his attorney said Delgaudio would contribute $5,000 to "young mothers who are in distress and in need."

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