Posted: July 22, 2003


By Celia Cohen

Grapevine Political Writer

Roger D. Blevins III, a familiar behind-the-scenes figure in state Democratic politics, was arrested Tuesday morning for allegedly embezzling $350,000 from the campaign treasury for U.S. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., essentially draining what was left in the account, according to the offices of Biden and the U.S. Attorney for Delaware.

The arrest came a week after Blevins admitted to two FBI agents he had taken the money by making 22 electronic transfers, one for $80,000, to other bank accounts, including one in Florida, between October and July, U.S. Attorney Colm F. Connolly said.

Blevins, 32, of Elsmere, turned himself in to the FBI and was released on his own recognizance by the U.S. District Court. He was charged with the interstate transfer of stolen property, a crime that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. He will be scheduled for a court appearance within 10 days, the two offices said.

Blevins could not be located for comment. Penny Marshall of the Federal Public Defender's Office declined comment and said Blevins also did.

Details of what happened were sketchy. The investigation began 10 days ago when Biden's staff went to the Federal Bureau of Investigation with their suspicions of embezzlement, according to Margaret Aitken, the senator's press secretary.

Blevins has been a campaign worker for Biden for nine years, most recently earning about $25,000 a year, Aitken said. He was part of the 2002 re-election effort, which spent roughly $3 million to put Biden in the Senate for a sixth term by defeating Republican Raymond J. Clatworthy with 58 percent of the vote.

After the election Blevins was retained as a one-man skeleton crew. The timing of the alleged thefts occurred from the harried climax of the campaign to the desultory interest that comes afterwards.

"Senator Biden is obviously disappointed and shares a sense of betrayal with all of his supporters," Aitken said.

The first public sign that something was wrong actually came last week. At that time Blevins submitted his resignation, citing personal reasons, as secretary for the New Castle County Democrats, according to John D. Daniello, the county chairman.

Blevins had something of a reputation for quiet eccentricity but also for an ever-helpful manner and a knack for computer work. He got his start in party politics by volunteering at Democratic state headquarters in the early 1990s and also worked for a time as an aide in Legislative Hall.

There seemed to be talk of little else Tuesday in Democratic Party circles. The sense of shock was exceeded only by a determination to keep all that talk private. No one had seen this coming.