WASHINGTON - The top aide to former U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon was named yesterday in court documents accusing him of falsifying congressional financial disclosure reports to cover up $19,000 in income 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 a pet legislative project for Weldon, a senior member of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees.
That money came on top of $1,500 that Caso's wife earned for editing documents that sought federal funding for reducing the spread of chemical and biological weapons from Russia to hostile nations, and 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 before 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.
Weldon's defense attorney, William Winning, did not immediately return a call for comment yesterday. Karen Weldon's attorney, Jim Rohn, declined to comment on whether her lobbying firm was still in business.
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.
The congressman's home and his offices were not searched, and Weldon has denied any wrongdoing. He lost his bid for an 11th House term.
Caso's wife earned the $19,000 during a four-month period between April and August 2005, the court documents show.
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."