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Korsmo pleads guilty to lying

Former North Dakota political heavyweight John T. Korsmo pleaded guilty Thursday to lying about his role in a 2002 Washington, D.C., fund-raiser. The former chairman of the Federal Housing Finance Board admitted that he lied to a U.S. Senate comm...

Former North Dakota political heavyweight John T. Korsmo pleaded guilty Thursday to lying about his role in a 2002 Washington, D.C., fund-raiser.

The former chairman of the Federal Housing Finance Board admitted that he lied to a U.S. Senate committee and federal agents investigating his role in a congressional fund-raising event.

Korsmo, 55, of Washington, faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is scheduled to be sentenced July 11.

Two phone messages left Thursday at Korsmo's Washington home were not returned.

A federal complaint filed in March says the investigation centered on Korsmo being listed as a "special guest" on invitations to a $500-a-head reception for Rick Clayburgh on Oct. 1. 2002. Some of the invited guests were officials at banks regulated by the federal housing and finance agency headed by Korsmo.

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Korsmo told investigators and the committee's chairman, Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., that he didn't know how Clayburgh's congressional campaign got the invited bankers' contact information.

Investigators later learned that Korsmo sent the contact list to his wife, Michelle Larson Korsmo, who forwarded it to the Clayburgh campaign.

The complaint says that Korsmo also "agreed that his name would appear on the invitation as the special guest."

Korsmo, a former Fargo abstract company owner and state GOP chairman, ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1992. He served on the North Dakota Board of Higher Education and was chairman of the North Dakota Judicial Nominating Committee.

In November 2001, he became chairman of the housing board by presidential appointment. He resigned a year ago in the midst of the fund-raiser investigation.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Zent at (701) 241-5526

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