WASHINGTON - The top aide to former Pennsylvania Rep. Curt Weldon was named yesterday in court documents accusing him of falsifying congressional financial-disclosure reports to cover up $19,000 his wife made for doing limited work at a consulting firm tied to the former lawmaker's family.
Russell James Caso Jr., who served as chief of staff to the Delaware County Republican, also argued in meetings with high-level Bush administration officials that the projects his wife was working on should get federal funding, according to the documents filed in U.S. District Court in Washington.
"Caso's wife performed little work" for $17,500 that she received from the firm, which sought to help U.S. companies wanting to do business in Russia, the documents allege. Such a goal had been among pet legislative projects for Weldon, a senior member of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security committees, before he lost abid for re-election last year.
That money came on top of $1,500 that Caso's wife was paid for editing documents that sought federal funding for reducing the spread of chemical and biological weapons from Russia to hostile nations, and for developing cooperative plans related to joint missile defense programs.
The court records are known as "charging documents" and are normally filed as part of a plea agreement. Neither Weldon nor his family's firm is named in the court document. But Caso was Weldon's staff chief in 2005 and 2006.
Caso's attorney, Kelly B. Kramer, of the Nixon Peabody law firm in Washington, did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
A court hearing in front of U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. has not yet been scheduled for Caso's case, which comes amid a still-pending federal inquiry involving Weldon and his daughter's consulting firm.
Three weeks before Election Day last year, the FBI raided the homes of Karen Weldon and Charles P. Sexton Jr., owners of Solutions North America, as part of a corruption probe into whether the congressman improperly steered $1 million in foreign contracts to the firm.
In March, Avineon Inc., a technology company that has contracts with the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, announced that it had appointed Caso to be a vice president of strategic development.
A voice message left yesterday afternoon with Avineon was not immediately returned.
Caso - who served in the Navy - worked for Weldon for about three years, and was his chief of staff for at least two of the years, records show.
His wife earned the $19,000 during a four-month period between April and August 2005, the court documents show.
Meanwhile, in mid-2005 and at Weldon's direction, Caso "organized and attended meetings with high-level officials in executive branch agencies, including the Departments of State and Energy and the National Security Council," the documents show. During those meetings, both Caso and Weldon argued for federal funds for the programs to curb proliferation of dirty-bomb materials and missile defense, according to the records.
In his annual financial-disclosure report for 2005, Caso omitted any mention of his wife's earnings from Solutions North America. Prosecutors said Caso "intentionally failed to disclose that his wife received payments . . . even though he knew that he was required to do so." *