St Germain, in Private Life, Faces New Legal Troubles

WASHINGTON - Investigations and legal inquiries were almost a way of life for Rep. Fernand J. St Germain during his final years in Congress. And in the two years since the onetime House Banking Committee chairman was booted out of office, his private life has shaped up pretty much the same.

A grand jury in Rhode Island is investigating the sale of his Newport condominium for a price nearly double its appraised value, according to the Providence Journal-Bulletin.

He is also being sued for legal fees he received in 1989 from a now-bankrupt client. And the Federal Elections Committee has received a complaint from a woman who said she never contributed the $1,000 listed under her name in Mr. St Germain's 1988 campaign finance records; committee officials refused to say if the complaint is being investigated.

The new charges have a familiar ring. In the late '80s, the House Ethics Committee and the Justice Department probed claims that he had accepted free flights from a Florida thrift and gifts from Washington lobbyists. Neither agency brought charges, although Justice found "substantial evidence of serious and sustained misconduct."

Mr. St Germain's new legal troubles also helped shed some light on the post-retirement life of the always secretive Rhode Island Democrat.

According to court documents, Mr. St Germain was paid $240,000 a year to open and run a Washington office for a firm that was renamed St Germain, Rodio & Ursillo.

Controversial Business

He arranged a meeting between Marquette Credit Union, which had once financed his own investments, and a Rhode Island businessman, Michael A. Lolicata. A $500,000 loan was arranged. A few months later, Mr. Lolicata's business went into bankruptcy; the loan was not repaid.

The bankruptcy trustee sued the St Germain law firm, claiming that the $845,000 in fees it had received were excessive. The firm paid $350,000 and was dropped from the suit. Additional reimbursement is being sought from Mr. St Germain, who left the firm last year.

The trustee said Mr. St Germain was a partner in the firm and responsible for its debts. He says he was not a partner.

Neither he nor his former legal associate, Joseph J. Rodio, could be reached for comment.

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