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Mental test for a N.H. suspect

Accused in the Clinton office hostage case, he was called both ill and a longtime criminal.

ROCHESTER, N.H. - A judge yesterday ordered a psychiatric evaluation for the man accused of taking hostages at a Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign office last week and ordered him held on $500,000 cash bail on six felony charges.

Leeland Eisenberg, 46, was portrayed variously as a sick man desperately seeking psychiatric help and a manipulative longtime criminal.

"I think it's very, very important to keep this man under lock and key for now until we get to the bottom of his mental-health problems," Rochester District Court Judge Daniel Capiello said.

Prosecutor Janice Rundles asked for the high bail, saying Eisenberg had a long criminal record, including two rape convictions, and would be a public threat.

She said he was sentenced to 10 years for rape in Worcester, Mass., in 1985 but apparently escaped the next year and committed another rape. He was sentenced to 11 to 20 years for that, she said.

Massachusetts officials said Friday that Eisenberg was released from prison in March 2005, but state law prevented them from giving details.

Eisenberg allegedly took six hostages, including an infant and mother, at Clinton's storefront office in Rochester on Friday, showing them what he said was a bomb strapped to his chest. Authorities said it turned out to be road flares.

No one was hurt in the 51/2-hour drama.

Eisenberg faces charges of kidnapping, criminal threatening, and fraudulent use of a bomblike device. Public defender Randy Hawkes portrayed Eisenberg as a man at the end of his rope emotionally after being turned down when he sought help.

Eisenberg "heard voices and saw a movie in his head telling him he had to sacrifice himself" to shine light on the flaws in the health-care system, Hawkes said. Rundles said Eisenberg did not mention his mental illness or ask for help in previous complaints her office prosecuted.