Posted: Aug. 6, 2003


By Celia Cohen

Grapevine Political Writer

Roger D. Blevins III, the campaign aide accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from U.S. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s treasury, is said by federal authorities to have spent the money for the high life -- a surprising contradiction to his reputation for modest living.

Blevins, 32, of Elsmere, was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury on 20 counts of interstate transfer of stolen property, a crime that carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, according to U.S. Attorney Colm F. Connolly.

The indictment comes about two weeks since Blevins was arrested by the FBI, after Biden's staff went to federal authorities with suspicions about embezzling that drained its account of $350,000, essentially all that was left from a $3-million re-election victory for Delaware's senior Democratic senator last year.

Blevins next will be scheduled for an initial court appearance on the charges, Connolly said.

The indictment describes a Roger Blevins nobody apparently knew in the Democratic Party, which seemed to be his life. That Roger Blevins was regarded as a quiet eccentric whose vanity was spinning fanciful tales about himself but who otherwise lived small, known for driving an old car and wearing bargain-basement clothes.

The Roger Blevins in the indictment is charged with stealing $260,000 and spending it on three people he met on the Internet as well as on luxury items, including a Porsche, a BMW convertible, a plasma-screen television, trips to Florida and other travel expenses, according to Connolly.

"We had no idea," said Margaret Aitken, the senator's press secretary.

It was a far cry from the Roger Blevins whose most illustrious role was to be the secretary for the New Castle County Democrats and who held jobs through the years as a functionary at Democratic headquarters, Legislative Hall and the Biden campaign. Blevins, however, was authorized for access to Biden's account, according to Connolly, and he also was known for his computer know-how.

Blevins' Internet acquaintances were not named in the indictment, and Connolly would not say whether their identities are known. In addition, the indictment only deals with $260,000 and not the entire $350,000 said to be missing.

Blevins did not return a telephone call Wednesday evening for comment.

Biden, now in his sixth term, was not alone among his colleagues in having his campaign treasury allegedly pilfered. According to Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, there has been something of a crime wave of late.

U.S. Sens. Daniel Inouye, a Hawaii Democrat, and Elizabeth Dole, a North Carolina Republican, each lost about $100,000 in inside jobs, Roll Call said. Other campaigns reporting they were hit were: U.S. Rep. John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, for roughly $400,000; and U.S. Rep. Sam Farr and former Rep. Gary Condit, both California Democrats, more than $35,000 each.

In addition, U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, a Mississippi Republican, had $85,000 taken from his political action committee, and U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla, a Texas Republican, was bilked for $160,000 by the executive director of his PAC, the newspaper said.

"This problem has always existed, and almost every election cycle you see some embezzlement issue," Larry Noble, a campaign finance expert, told Roll Call. "But it does seem like it's on the increase, at least anecdotally."