The Associated Press
February 22, 1982, Monday, PM cycle
SECTION: Washington Dateline
LENGTH: 479 words
HEADLINE: Senator's Niece Fails in Extortion Case Appeal Bid
BYLINE: By RICHARD CARELLI, Associated Press Writer
DATELINE: WASHINGTON
BODY:

Sen. Thomas Eagleton's niece failed to win Supreme Court review today of her extortion-plot conviction involving false claims that the senator was bisexual.

Elizabeth Eagleton Weigand, who has remained free pending appeal, now faces the start of an indeterminate sentence that could result in her spending up to 4 1/2 years in prison.

The justices, without comment, turned away arguments that she was denied a fair trial.

Mrs. Weigand, 25, was convicted along with lawyer Stephen Poludniak of threatening in 1980 to make public false gossip about Eagleton, a Missouri Democrat who was then seeking re-election.

Prosecutors said the threat was aimed at forcing the Eagleton family business, Missouri Pipe Fittings Co., to buy back Mrs. Weigand's 6 1/4 percent stock for $220,000.

Sen. Eagleton told reporters before Mrs. Weigand's trial both she and Poludniak were members of the Church of Scientology, and wanted the money to be turned over to the controversial church.

In seeking Supreme Court reversal of her conviction, lawyers for Mrs. Weigand argued that the presiding federal trial judge, H. Kenneth Wangelin, made two crucial mistakes.

They said he should have transferred the trial from St. Louis and, since he did not, should have disqualified himself.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected both contentions in upholding Mrs. Weigand's conviction last Aug. 14.

"It is, and always was, (Mrs. Weigand's) position," her appeal stated, "that because of the massive publicity surrounding this case, coupled with the pre-existing sentiment in favor of Sen. Eagleton, the fair and impartial jury guaranteed defendants ... could not possibly obtain."

The appealsaid the trial site should have been moved because "the defendants were entitled to a trial by an impartial jury, untainted either by the position and prestige of the victim, or prejudice against the defendants and their possible church affiliations."

After the decision was made to hold the trial in St. Louis, the appeal said, Judge Wangelin should have disqualified himself because of a comment he had made three weeks before the trial started.

Wangelin told a newspaper reporter that he hoped to talk with Missouri's U.S. senators to discuss the possibility of obtaining more federal money to hire additional federal marshals.

The appeal said the statement raised a question about the judge's impartiality in Mrs. Weigand's case.

Justice Department lawyers urged the high court to reject the appeal.

"The record shows that the jury was not contaminated by the publicity so as to deprive (Mrs. Weigand) of a fair trial," the government said. "Any potential bias was fully explored (during jury selection) and the parties were able to select an untained jury."

The government lawyers called the judge's alleged appearance of impartiality "too remote" to be concerned over.



Copyright 1982 U.P.I.
February 22, 1982, Monday, PM cycle
SECTION: Washington News
LENGTH: 326 words
DATELINE: WASHINGTON
BODY:

The Supreme Court today refused to enter the highly publicized conviction of Elizabeth Weigand for attempting to blackmail her uncle, Sen. Thomas Eagleton, D-Mo., before the 1980 primary election.

The justices rejected arguments that Mrs. Weigand was denied a fair trial in St. Louis federal court because of massive publicity and her uncle's notoriety.

Mrs. Weigand and her attorney, Stephen Poludniak, were convicted of conspiracy and extortion in a scheme in which they tried to force an Eagleton family-owned corporation to buy out Mrs. Weigand's holdings in the firm for $220,000 cash.

When the directors of Missouri Pipe Fittings Co. refused to pay her the money, Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak threatened to turn over ''damaging information'' about Eagleton to a St. Louis newspaper and to the Democratic senator's campaign opponent two days before the August 1980 primary election.

The purported information involved unfounded rumors that Eagleton was bi-sexual and allegations of company mismanagement.

Directors of the pipe company, including Eagleton, called in the FBI.

Investigators arrested Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak on Aug. 3, 1980. Eagleton called a news conference the following day to announce the arrest of his niece and linked her conduct to her participation in the controversial Church of Scientology.

Mrs. Weigand appealed her conviction on grounds her trial should have been moved out of St. Louis because of extensive publicity that might have prejudiced jurors. She also challenged the trial judge's impartiality and the jury's selection and alleged other trial errors.

She was ordered into custody for treatment under the Youth Corrections Act. Poludniak was sentenced to four years in prison and three years probation.

Eagleton, who withdrew as the Democratic Party's 1972 vice presidential nominee after confirming reports he had twice undergone electroshock therapy, won re-election to the Senate in 1980.



Copyright 1982 U.P.I.
February 22, 1982, Monday, AM cycle
SECTION: Regional News
LENGTH: 364 words
HEADLINE: Supreme Court rejects Weigand appeal
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

The Supreme Court Monday rejected arguments that Elizabeth Weigand was denied a fair trial in her conviction of attempting to blackmail her uncle, Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton, D-Mo.

The court in Washington refused to hear the case. Mrs. Weigand and her lawyer were arrested Aug. 3, 1980, on charges of trying to extort money from Eagleton before the 1980 primary election.

Mrs. Weigand had contended she was unable to obtain a fair trial in St. Louis because of massive publicity and her uncle's well-know name.

She and attorney Stephen Poludniak were found guilty in U.S. District Court of conspiracy and extortion in a scheme to force the senator to buy for $220,000 cash her shares in an Eagleton family-owned pipe company.

Directors of Missouri Pipe Fittings Co. refused to pay the money. Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak threatened two days before the August 1980 primary election to turn over ''damaging information'' about Eagleton to a St. Louis newspaper and to the senator's campaign opponent.

The purported information involved unfounded rumors that Eagleton was bi-sexual and allegations of company mismanagement. Mrs. Weigand testified during the trial that the rumors were ''ridiculous.''

Directors of the company, including Eagleton, called the FBI.

At a news conference the next day, Eagleton announced the arrest of his niece and linked her conduct to her participation in the controversial Church of Scientology.

Mrs. Weigand based the appeal of her conviction on grounds her trial should have been moved out of St. Louis because of extensive publicity that might have prejudiced jurors. She also challenged the trial judge's impartiality, the jury selection and alleged other trial errors.

Mrs. Weigand never has served time for the conviction, but was ordered into custody under the Youth Corrections Act. Poludniak was sentenced to four years in prison and three years' probation.

Eagleton, who withdrew as the Democrats' 1972 vice presidential nominee after confirming reports he twice had undergone electroshock therapy, won re-election to the Senate in 1980.

Eagleton won a third term by defeating St. Louis County Executive Gene McNary, a Republican.



Copyright 1980 U.P.I.
December 15, 1980, Monday, BC cycle
SECTION: Regional News
LENGTH: 164 words
DATELINE: JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.
BODY:

The Missouri Supreme Court today accepted the surrender of Stephen E. Poludniak's law license.

Poludniak was sentenced to four years in prison earlier this month for his part in the trial of Elizabeth Eagleton Weigand, charged with an attempt to extort $220,000 from her uncle, Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton, D-Mo.

At the St. Louis trial, Poludniak had taken the blame for advising Mrs. Weigand in the scheme in which she threatened to charge Eagleton with homosexual activities if he did not buy her interests in Missouri Pipe Fittings Co., an Eagleton family business. United Press International December 15, 1980, Monday, BC cycle

Eagleton said he refused to buy her stock because he suspected she would turn the money over to the Church of Scientology, to which Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak belonged.

The federal court that convicted both left it up to the parole commission to decide how much time Mrs. Weigand will serve in prison. The maximum for her would be four years.

The court accepted Poludniak's law license without comment.



Copyright 1980 U.P.I.
December 5, 1980, Friday, AM cycle
SECTION: Regional News
LENGTH: 559 words
HEADLINE: Sentencing of Eagleton's niece left up to parole board
BYLINE: By ROB RAINS
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

A federal parole commission will decide whether a niece of Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton will have to serve time in prison for an extortion attempt against the senator, a judge said Friday.

The niece, Elizabeth Eagleton Weigand, was placed under the authority of the parole board by Chief U.S. District Court Judge H. Kenneth Wangelin, who could have sentenced her to seven years in prison and fined her $10,500.

Mrs. Weigand was convicted of trying to extort $220,000 from Eagleton by threatening to start a rumor that he is homosexual.

Wangelin sentenced Mrs. Weigand's former attorney, Stephen E. Poludniak, to four years in prison. During the trial, Poludniak took the blame for advising Mrs. Weigand in the scheme.

Leonard Frankel, Mrs. Weigand's attorney, said he would file an appeal with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals seeking to overturn the convictions of both Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak.

Wangelin sentenced Mrs. Weigand, 24, under the Young Adult Offender Corrections Act. As a result, she could be sentenced to a maximum four-year prison term by the parole commission.

Mrs. Weigand did not make a statement before she was sentenced and showed no reaction when Wangelin told her of his decision.

In a statement released from his Washington office, Eagleton expressed sympathy for his niece.

''I feel great pity for my niece and great compassion for her parents,'' Eagleton said. ''She is still young and I can only hope that she will regain control of her own life and salvage her future.''

Frankel, in his statement to the judge, had asked for probation, saying Mrs. Weigand did not pose a threat to society and it would serve no purpose for her to go to jail.

''She never had any involvement with the authorities before and there is no reason to believe she would ever have any in the future,'' Frankel said. ''I believe she didn't really understand that she was doing anything in violation of the law.''

Poludniak, in making an appeal for probation, said he was guilty of an error in judgement but did not believe a prison sentence was warranted. The 29-year-old, who has surrendered his law license, was not eligible for the Young Adult Offender Corrections Act.

A jury Oct. 24 found the pair guilty of one count of extortion and one count of conspiracy.

Mrs. Weigand testified during the trial that she wanted to sell her interests in Missouri Pipe Fittings Co., an Eagleton family-owned business. She said she asked her uncle and company officers to buy her out, but they refused.

Eagleton said he refused to buy Mrs. Weigand's stock because he believed she would turn the money over to the Church of Scientology, to which Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak belonged.

The church was never mentioned in the trial and jurors were carefully screened about their knowledge of Eagleton's comments.

Eagleton, who won a close race for re-election in November, testified at the trial that the evidence Mrs. Weigand intended to use to prove he was bisexual if not totally gay was ''absolutely and totally false.''

Mrs. Weigand later said the charge was ''ridiculous'' and grew out of unfounded rumors she had heard from her older sister that Eagleton had been seen at a hotel-restaurant frequented by gays in Key West, Fla.

Mrs. Weigand said Poludniak had suggested the scheme to pressure company officials to buy the stock.



Copyright 1980 U.P.I.
December 4, 1980, Thursday, AM cycle
SECTION: Regional News
LENGTH: 370 words
HEADLINE: Eagleton's niece to be sentenced for extortion
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

A niece of Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton faces sentencing Friday on her conviction of trying to extort $220,000 from the senator by threatening to start a rumor he is gay.

Elizabeth Eagleton Weigand, 24, and her former attorney, Stephen E. Poludniak, 29, will be sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge H. Kenneth Wangelin. The two were found guilty Oct. 24 of one count of extortion and one count of conspiracy.

They could receive maximum sentences of seven years in prison and $10,500 in fines.

Mrs. Weigand testified at her trial that she wanted to sell her interests in Missouri Pipe Fittings Co., an Eagleton family-owned business. She said she asked her uncle and company officers to buy her out, but they refused.

Eagleton called a news conference on the day before the August primary election, which he won against token opposition, to announce his niece and her attorney had been arrested by the FBI one day earlier.

Eagleton said he refused to buy Mrs. Weigand's stock because he believed she would turn the money over to the Church of Scientology, to which Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak belonged.

The church was never mentioned during the trial, and jurors were carefully screened about their knowledge of Eagleton's statements.

At the time of the arrests, FBI agents seized a briefcase which Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak claimed contained information damaging to Eagleton, a Democrat who won a close race for re-election in November.

In the trial's most dramatic moment, Eagleton read a note taken from the briefcase and written by Mrs. Weigand in which she charged that the senator was ''bisexual, if not totally gay.''

Eagleton said of the charge: ''It's absolutely and totally false.''

Mrs. Weigand later said the claim was ''ridiculous'' and grew out of unfounded rumors she had heard from her older sister, Margaret ''Mimi'' Eagleton. The sister testified she heard the rumor from a friend who reported seeing Eagleton at a hotel-restaurant frequented by gays in Key West, Fla.

Mrs. Weigand said Poludniak had suggested the scheme to pressure officers of Missouri Pipe Fittings to buy the stock. Poludniak, who has surrendered his Missouri law license, said he didn't consider the plot illegal.



Copyright 1980 U.P.I.
October 25,1980,PM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 442 words
BYLINE: By ALICE NOBLE
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

Sen. Thomas Eagleton's niece faces a sentence of up to seven years in prison on her conviction of attempting to extort $220,000 from the senator by threatening to start a rumor he is a homosexual.

A jury deliberated only two hours, 15 minutes Friday before finding Elizabeth Eagleton Weigand, 24, guilty of one count of extortion and one count of conspiracy. She could be sentenced to a total of seven years in prison and $10,500 in fines.

Her former attorney, Stephen Poludniak, 29, also was convicted of both charges and faces the same penalties.

The two remained free on bond pending sentencing Dec. 5 by Chief U.S. District Judge H. Kenneth Wangelin.

Poludniak admitted during the trial he had concocted the scheme in which he and Mrs. Weigand told Eagleton they would release evidence damaging to him unless the senator paid $220,000 for Mrs. Weigand's interest in Missouri Pipe Fittings Co., an Eagleton family-owned business.

Eagleton, a Missouri Democrat who is up for re-election Nov. 4, appeared during the trial and read a note seized from the defendants when they were arrested Aug. 3 by the FBI.

The note, hand-written by Mrs. Weigand, said: ''The senator is bisexual, if not totally gay.''

Eagleton emphatically denied the allegation, and Mrs. Weigand agreed in testimony the charge was ''wild, preposterous and ridiculous.''

Mrs. Weigand said the rumor started in Key West, Fla., where her older sister, Margaret ''Mimi'' Eagleton, was told by a friend that Eagleton had been seen last year ''disheveled and unshaven'' in a hotel-restaurant frequented by the island's gay community.

Eagleton testified he had been to Key West only once, on a 1972 fishing trip with his son and Sen. Gaylord Nelson, D-Wis., and Nelson's son. Eagleton also has a daughter.

Mrs. Weigand told the court she wanted to sell her stock in Missouri Pipe Fittings and consulted Poludniak. She said she approached J.J. Thyson, an officer of the firm, and he refused to buy the stock, calling her a ''common parasite.''

Mrs. Weigand said Poludniak suggested they tell Eagleton and his lawyers they would disseminate harmful information about the senator before the Aug. 5 Missouri primary unless the stock was bought.

''I wasn't in full agreement while it was going on,'' Mrs. Weigand said, ''but I figured, 'Well, he's a lawyer.'''

At a news conference before the primary, Eagleton told reporters he refused to buy the stock because he believed the money would be turned over to the Church of Scientology, to which Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak belonged.

Lawyers for both sides carefully avoided mentioning the controversial church in court.



Copyright 1980 U.P.I.
October 24,1980,PM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 559 words
BYLINE: By ALICE NOBLE
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

A federal court jury today began deliberations in the trial of Sen. Thomas Eagleton's niece, who is charged with trying to extort $220,000 from the senator by threatening to start a rumor he is homosexual.

The niece, Elizabeth Weigand, 24, and her former attorney, Stephen Poludniak, 29, were charged with one count each of extortion and conspiracy. Conviction on the two counts carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and fines totaling $10,500.

The case went to the jury at 12:58 p.m. CDT on the eighth day of the trial.

Mrs. Weigand's attorney, Leonard Frankel, insisted the case was merely a family dispute.

''The only reason we are in this court is because of the Eagleton name,'' Frankel said. ''If this were some other family, the things that were said about the Eagleton family wouldn't have had to be said.''

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Reap replied, ''They say this case is a tragedy. The tragedy is that Senator Eagleton had to come into court, read what he read and deny it.''

Mrs. Weigand testified Thursday the sexual allegations about Eagleton, Missouri's senior Democratic senator, were ''wild, preposterous and ridicuous.''

Mrs. Weigand was asked if she wanted Eagleton's attorney to think she would make public such rumors about the senator if Eagleton did not buy her $220,000 interest in the Eagleton-owned Missouri Pipe Fittings Co.

''Yes,'' she replied. ''That was my intent. I wanted him to believe that.''

Mrs. Weigand said Poludniak told her the actions were not illegal. She said she was acting under his advice.

''Steve said, 'Oh, by the way, I've researched this and eveything's legal. I looked up everything, including blackmail,''' she testified.

In a taped conversation played this week, Mrs. Weigand told the manager of Missouri Pipe, ''I don't want to destroy Tommy. I want what I want. I want to get out. This is obviously the only way I can do it.''

Asked by her attorney why she made the statement, Mrs. Weigand replied, ''I was the one supposedly who had done all these things and Steve had made me out to be hard-nosed.

''I said that because I was trying to play up to what I was made out to be.''

The harmful information, introduced into evidence Wednesday, turned out to be hand-written documents by Mrs. Weigand alleging Eagleton had a homosexual affair in Key West, Fla.

Eagleton emphatically denied the allegation, which Mrs. Weigand said she had heard through her sister, Margaret ''Mimi'' Eagleton.

Mimi Eagleton testified Thursday she heard rumors that Eagleton was gay from a friend, identified only as Suzie, who in turn had heard if from Jay Haskell, who operated a club in Key West.

Eagleton testified he had been to Key West only once, in 1972 on a fishing trip, and never had been to Haskell's club.

In earlier testimony, Mrs. Weigand, Mimi Eagleton and an older brother rebutted testimony given by the senator Wednesday.

Eagleton had said his brother's children were told repeatedly that ''the company ain't buying.'' Mrs. Weigand testified she got the impression at a family meeting that the company would buy her stock.

Eagleton has told reporters he refused to buy the stock because he feared Mrs. Weigand would give the money to the Church of Scientology, of which both she and Poludniak are members. The church has not been mentioned at the trial.



Copyright 1980 U.P.I.
October 23, 1980, Thursday, AM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 641 words
BYLINE: By ALICE NOBLE
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

A niece of Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton, D-Mo., testified Thursday she wanted one of Eagleton's lawyers to believe she had damaging information about her uncle that she would make public if the senator did not buy $220,000 in stock from her.

The niece, Elizabeth Weigand, made the admission for the first time in open court during her federal extortion trial.

She was asked by government prosecutors if she wanted J.J. Thyson, manager of an Eagleton family business, to think she would disseminate harmful information about the senator if Eagleton did not buy her interest in the business.

''Yes,'' she replied. ''That was my intent. I wanted him to believe that.''

Mrs. Weigand testified her former attorney, Stephen F. Poludniak, a co-defendant in the case, told her her actions were not illegal. She said she was acting under his advise.

''Steve said, 'Oh, by the way, I've researched this and eveything's legal. I looked up everything, including blackmail.'''

David and Margaret Eagleton, Mrs. Weigand's older brother and sister, testified the Eagleton children were never told about their interest in the family-owned Missouri Pipe Fittings Co. until Margaret obtained a lawyer.

''We were not dealt with fairly in that Mr. (J.J.) Thyson did not give us a copy of the trust and kept us ignorant as to what our rights are under the trust,'' David Eagleton testified.

Thyson was named managing director of the the company under a restrictive stock agreement, often referred to as the Eagleton Trust. The agreement states that shares in the company can be sold only to blood relatives until the year 2001.

Mrs. Weigand, 24, and Poludniak, 29, are charged with one count each of extortion and conspiracy. Prosecutors said the pair threatened to release harmful information about Eagleton if the senator did not pay $220,000 to Mrs. Weigand for her stock in the company.

The information, introduced into evidence Wednesday, turned out to be hand-written notes by Mrs. Weigand alleging Eagleton had a homosexual affair in Key West, Fla. Eagleton emphatically denied the allegation, which Poludniak admitted was false.

Poludniak testified Wednesday the scheme was entirely his idea and advised Mrs. Weigand it was legal.

Both David and Margaret Eagleton testified Thursday the children had a ''very poor relationship'' with Thyson, whose duties included handling the children's financial affairs.

''Mr. Thyson would try to belittle Steven, Libby, Mimi and I,'' David Eagleton said.

He testified Thyson would not authorize the money for Margaret, known as Mimi, to return to college for a major in dance and psychology.

Margaret Eagleton said ''(Thyson) said I didn't deserve to be able to go back to school. He said I was worthless and I had to prove I deserved to go back. He wanted me to work as a secretary for three years.''

Eagleton has told reporters he refused to buy the stock because he feared Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak would turn the money over to the Church of Scientology, to which they both belonged. The church has not been mentioned at the trial.

Margaret Eagleton testified Thursday she heard rumors that Eagleton was homosexual from a friend, identified only as Suzie, who in turn had heard it from Jay Haskell, who operated a club in Key West.

Margaret said she later spoke with Haskell and he told her he had seen Eagleton at La Terrazza De Marti, a restaurant and hotel frequented by the homosexual community in Key West. But she said Haskell never told her directly that Eagleton was homosexual.

''He said he had seen him there in the morning, sitting at a table by himself,'' Mimi Eagleton said. ''He looked disheveled and unshaven, and looked as if he didn't want to be spoken to.''

Eagleton testified he had been to Key West only once, in 1972 on a fishing trip, and never had been to La Terrazza.



Copyright 1980 U.P.I.
October 22, 1980, Wednesday, PM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 292 words
BYLINE: By ALICE NOBLE
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

Testifying at the extortion trial of his niece, Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton today vehemently denied her allegation he is ''bisexual, if not totally gay.''

Eagleton read to the courtroom from a yellow sheet of paper on which his niece, Elizabeth Weigand, had hand-written the allegation. The government contends Mrs. Weigand threatened to make public the information unless the Democratic senator bought for $220,000 Mrs. Weigand's share in an Eagleton family business.

''It's absolutely and totally false,'' Eagleton said of the allegation.

The note said: ''The senator is bisexual, if not toally gay. He was seen with an ex-Pennsylvania congressman at La Theresa in Key West, Fla. He was fairly disheveled, not in a suit.''

Eagleton said he had never been to ''La Theresa,'' which was not identified further, and had been to Key West only once _ when he went fishing there March 28, 1972, with his son and Sen. Gaylord Nelson, D-Wis., and Nelson's son.

Eagleton also read from a second hand-written note from Mrs. Weigand. In it she said: ''We are gathering information on how the senator got in office in the '60s _ looks like possible payoffs.''

The senator replied: ''That is absolutely and totally false.''

Eagleton has said he refused to buy his niece's stock for fear she would give the money to the Church of Scientology. The church was not brought up in testimony.

The two hand-written notes and another note by Mrs. Weigand concerning finances of the family business were contained in a mystery briefcase seized when Mrs. Weigand and her former lawyer, Stephen Poludniak, were arrested by the FBI Aug. 3.

Mrs. Weigand, 24, and Poludniak, 29, are on trial in U.S. District Court on one count each of extortion and conspiracy.



Copyright 1980 U.P.I.
October 21, 1980, Tuesday, PM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 425 words
HEADLINE: Witness reveals threat to release damaging Eagleton information
BYLINE: By ALICE NOBLE
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton's niece had damaging information about the senator that her attorney threatened to release to the media if Eagleton refused to discuss buying $220,000 in stock, the senator's attorney says.

Lawyer William E. Buckley testified Monday he learned of the existence of the allegedly defamatory material about two weeks before the Aug. 5 primary election, in which Eagleton won renomination against token opposition.

The senator's niece, Elizabeth Weigand, and her former attorney, Stephen F. Poludniak, are on trial in U.S. District Court on one count each of extortion and conspiracy.

Tape-recorded conversations between Buckley and Poludniak were expected to played for the jury today. FBI agents Monday testified that recording devices were planted on Buckley on several occasions.

Buckley said Mrs. Weigand's lawyer threatened to release the information to the press if Eagleton did not buy her stock in Missouri Pipe Fittings Co., an Eagleton family-owned business.

Defense attorneys have said the alleged defamatory material is ''just gossip'' and Eagleton has labeled it ''a bunch of garbage.''

The documents were seized in a briefcase when Poludniak and Mrs. Weigand were arrested by the FBI Aug. 3. The senator twice has asked the FBI to make it public, but the agency has refused, saying it is potential evidence in the case.

Buckley said Poludniak told him Mrs. Weigand had hired investigators to conduct an investigation of Missouri Pipe Fittings, which turned up ''a number of irregularities.''

''In addition to the irregularities,'' Buckley said, ''Poludniak said they also uncovered some material involving Senator Eagleton and Mr. (J.J.) Thyson,'' general manager of Missouri Pipe Fittings.

Buckley said Poludniak told him, '''If you don't want to talk to me, I'm sure other people would, including the media.''' He said Poludniak noted it is an election year and material of the sort would be damaging to Eagleton.

Thyson, who also was custodian of Mrs. Weigand's financial interest in the firm, was cross-examined at length earlier Monday. He said he had the authority to buy Mrs. Weigand's stock for the company, but would not have done so because her grandfather, Mark Eagleton Sr., had requested the stock remain in the hands of blood relatives.

Eagleton has said he refused to purchase the stock because he feared his niece would give the money to the Church of Scientology. The church has denied any involvement and has suspended the pair from membership pending the outcome of the case.



Copyright 1980 U.P.I.
October 21, 1980, Tuesday, PM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 545 words
BYLINE: By ALICE NOBLE
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

A tape played in federal court today contained remarks by an attorney that the niece of Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton threatened to publicize information allegedly detrimental to her uncle unless Eagleton bought stock from her for $220,000.

''The documents would be of a tragic nature to the senator,'' the attorney, Stephen Poludniak, said on the tape.

The conversation between Poludniak _ currently a defendant in an extortion trial _ and Eagleton's attorney, William E. Buckley, was recorded by Buckley. It took place in Buckley's office July 29, one week before the Missouri primary election.

Pressed by Buckley to tell him about the alleged documents, Poludniak refused to be specific.

When Buckley asked whether the material would be of an embarrasing nature to Eagleton, Poludniak replied, ''That's exactly right.''

The tape was played to jurors in U.S. District Court in the trial of Elizabeth Weigand and Poludniak, each of whom is charged with one count of extortion and conspiracy.

FBI agents arrested Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak Aug. 3 _ two days before the primary _ and seized a mysterious briefcase containing the allegedly damaging information.

Eagleton twice has asked the FBI to make public the contents of the briefcase, but the agency has refused, contending the material was potential evidence in the trial.

The senator easily won the primary over token opposition. The current trial was scheduled before the general election at the request of Eagleton as well as the defense.

Eagleton refused Mrs. Weigand's request to buy her share of stock in an Eagleton family-owned business, Missouri Pipe Fittings Co. The senator said he feared Mrs. Weigand would turn over to the money to the Church of Scientology.

Buckley testified Monday he first learned of the alleged plot about two weeks before the primary election.

Buckley said Poludniak told him Mrs. Weigand had hired investigators to conduct an investigation of Missouri Pipe Fittings, which turned up ''a number of irregularities.''

''In addition to the irregularities,'' Buckley said, ''Poludniak said they also uncovered some material involving Senator Eagleton and Mr. (J.J.) Thyson,'' general manager of Missouri Pipe Fittings.

Buckley said Poludniak told him, '''If you don't want to talk to me, I'm sure other people would, including the media.''' He said Poludniak noted it is an election year and material of the sort would be damaging to Eagleton.

Thyson, who also was custodian of Mrs. Weigand's finaFRXRhJdJhRywas cross-examined at length earlier Monday. He said he had the authority to buy Mrs. Weigand's stock for the company, but would not have done so because her grandfather, Mark Eagleton Sr., had requested the stock remain in the hands of blood relatives.

Eagleton has said he refused to purchase the stock because he feared his niece would give the money to the Church of Scientology. The church has denied any involvement and has suspended the pair from membership pending the outcome of the case.

ry had been making signals to Washington about improving relations and was amazed the United States had not responded.

Apart from such tenuous hints, there was no indication in Tehran of an easing of the hard-line position imposed by Khomeini and Rajai.



Copyright 1980 U.P.I.
October 21, 1980, Tuesday, AM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 381 words
HEADLINE: Alleged extortion plot against Eagleton discussed in tapes
BYLINE: By ALICE NOBLE
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

Jurors in the federal extortion trial of Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton's niece Tuesday heard a taped telephone conversation in which she confirms a threat to release damaging information about the senator.

The tape of a telephone conversation between Elizabeth Eagleton Weigand and the general manager of an Eagleton family-owned business was played during the fifth day of Mrs. Weigand's extortion trial in U.S. District Court.

In it general manager J.J. Thyson asked: ''You have assembled some documents that if you are not bought out, you will release the information to the press. Is that your intention?''

''Uh huh,'' replied Mrs. Weigand, who was in Los Angeles at the time.

Mrs. Weigand, 24, and her former attorney, Stephen F. Poludniak, 29, are charged with one count each of extortion and conspiracy. They are accused of threatening to release damaging information about the senator if he refused to purchase Mrs. Weigand's $220,000 worth of stock in the Eagleton family's Missouri Pipe Fittings Co.

In another tape played for the jury, Poludniak told an attorney for Eagleton,who was taping the July 29 conservation, that Mrs. Weigand ''wants to be washed out of the company.'' Poludniak said on the tape the documents ''would be of a tragic nature to the senator.''

''She is adamant about doing one thing,'' Poludniak said. ''If she is unable to facilitate the washout of her stock... it is her discretion that it would be wise to distribute information that unfortunately could hurt her uncle.''

The conversation between Poludniak and Eagleton's attorney occurred in the attorney's office one week before the Missouri primary. The attorney testified he replied the company was not interested in buying Mrs. Weigand's stock.

FBI agents arrested Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak Aug. 3 _ two days before the primary _ and seized a mysterious briefcase containing the allegedly damaging information. The FBI has twice refused Eagleton's request to make public the information, with agents contending the material was potential evidence.

Eagleton, who easily won the Democratic senatorial primary, refused the request to buy Mrs. Weigand's stock because he said he feared she would give the money to the Church of Scientology, of which she and Poludniak are members.


Copyright 1980 U.P.I.
October 20,1980,PM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 412 words
BYLINE: By ALICE NOBLE
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton, D-Mo., is expected to testify this week at the trial of his niece, charged with trying to extort $220,000 from the senator.

After one day of testimony Thursday, the trial was recessed until today.

Elizabeth Eagleton Weigand, 24, and her attorney, Stephen E. Poludniak, are charged with one count each of extortion and conspiracy. A briefcase was seized when they were arrested Aug. 3 and allegedly contained material the two planned to use in the extortion plot.

Eagleton said the two claimed the briefcase contained information damaging to him politically.

The senator said they threatened to release the information to the press and his political opponents unless he agreed to purchase Mrs. Weigand's interest in an Eagleton family-owned business for $220,000.

He said he refused to buy the stock because he believed his niece would turn the money over to the Church of Scientology, to which she and Poludniak belonged.

Eagleton has denied that they had any damaging information about him, and has asked the Justice Department to reveal the contents of the briefcase.

However, federal prosecutors have said the briefcase is evidence in the trial, and cannot be opened out of court.

The only hint of what might be inside the case came last Thursday during opening statements in the trial. Leonard Frankel, Mrs. Weigand's attorney, said the information she had was ''just gossip.''

Frankel said Mrs. Weigand heard the gossip from her sister, Margaret ''Mimi'' Eagleton. He said Mimi Eagleton learned of it while in Key West, Fla.

''That's all it was, just gossip,'' Frankel said.

In the prosecution's opening statement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Reap said the briefcase held ''memorandums of letters regarded as allegedly detrimental information to the senator and Mr. Thyson.''

J.J. Thyson is the manager of the Eagleton family-owned business, Missouri Pipe Fittings Co.

Frankel said Mrs. Weigand worried that her actions might be construed as blackmail but Poludniak ''advised her that everything was 100 percent legal and there was nothing wrong with what she was doing.''

Two days were spent last week selecting a jury of seven men and five women. U.S. District Judge H. Kenneth Wangelin questioned jurors closely about their political activism and about their views of the Church of Scientology.

Both Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak belong to the church, but have been suspended because of the extortion charges.



Copyright 1980 U.P.I.
October 20,1980,AM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 508 words
BYLINE: By ALICE NOBLE
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton's attorney testified Monday an attorney for the senator's niece threatened to make public damaging information about the senator if Eagleton refused to discuss buying $220,000 in stock.

William E. Buckley, campaign treasurer and attorney for the Democratic senator from Missouri, said Stephen F. Poludniak told him of the alleged damaging information July 25, less than two weeks before the Aug. 5 primary.

Poludniak and Eagleton's niece, Elizabeth Weigand, are on trial in U.S. District Court on one count each of extortion and conspiracy.

They are accused of threatening to release the information to the news media if Eagleton did not buy Mrs. Weigand's stock in Missouri Pipe Fittings Co., an Eagleton family-owned business.

Defense attorneys have dismissed the alleged defamatory material as ''just gossip'' and Eagleton has labeled it ''a bunch of garbage.'' The senator twice has asked the FBI to make it public, but the agency has refused, saying it is potential evidence in the case.

Buckley said Poludniak told him Mrs. Weigand ''had hired investigators to conduct an investigation of Missouri Pipe Fittings and these investigators had traveled throughout the United States and came up with a number of irregularities.

''In addition to the irregularities, Poludniak said they also uncovered some material involving Senator Eagleton and Mr. (J.J.) Thyson.''

Buckley said Poludniak told him, ''If you don't want to talk to me, I'm sure other people would, including the media.'' He said Poludniak noted it is an election year and material of the sort would be damaging to Eagleton.

Thyson, general manager of Missouri Pipe Fittings Co. and custodian of Mrs. Weigand's financial interest in the firm, was cross-examined at length earlier in the day by Mrs. Weigand's attorney, Leonard Frankel.

Frankel asked Thyson about payments made to Mrs. Weigand as her share of earnings from the company, in which she holds 6 percent interest. Frankel said there were several discrepancies and miscalculations in financial statements given to her.

Thyson said he had the authority to buy Mrs. Weigand's stock for the company, but would not have done so because her grandfather, Mark Eagleton Sr., had requested the stock remain in the hands of blood relatives.

Eagleton has said he refused to purchase the stock because he feared his niece would give the money to the Church of Scientology.

The church has denied any involvement and has suspended the pair from membership pending the outcome of the case.

Frankel asked Thyson if he ever accused Mrs. Weigand or her brothers and sister ''of living off the Eagleton name and not doing anything on their own and being ungrateful parasites.''

Thyson replied that he had. He later explained the comments were made during a family meeting during which Mrs. Weigand's brother called their mother ''a derogatory name'' and said their father was ''incompetent.''

Mrs. Weigand's father had suffered a stroke several years prior to the meeting.



Copyright 1980 The Washington Post The Washington Post
October 20, 1980, Monday, Final Edition
SECTION: First Section; A14
LENGTH: 781 words
HEADLINE: Eagleton's Reelection Bid Interrupted By Trial of Niece on Extortion Charge
BYLINE: By Edward H. Kohn, Special to The Washington Post
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS, Oct. 19, 1980
BODY:

Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton (D-Mo.) is making few campaign apearances as the trial of his niece, who is charged with trying to extort $220,000 from him, unfolds in federal court here.

Polls indicate that Eagleton, who is seeking a third term in the Nov. 4 election, holds a large lead over his Republican opponent, St. Louis County Executive Gene McNary, who is barn-storming around the state by helicopter. eBut, said one long-time state political observer, "That trial may be the story of the campaign."

The senator's niece, Elizabeth (Libby) (Eagleton Weigand, and her former attorney, Stephen E. Poludniak, are accused of trying to extort the money from Eagleton by threatening to release unspecified damaging material about him.

Prosecutors said Weigand and Poludniak had threatened to release the allegedly damaging material to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and to a McNary campaign aide unless Eagleton purchased for $220,000 her 6.25 percent interest in a family-owned pipe-fittings company. Weigand was given the stock in the early 1970s by her father under a set of tight restrictions aimed at keeping it in the Eagleton family.

At the time of Weigand's arrest about 2 1/2 months ago, Eagleton said his niece was trying to sell the stock so she could give the proceeds to the Church of Scientology. The senator charged also that the church was involved in the alleged plot. But the church isn't mentioned in the indictment, church officials have denied any wrongdoing, and the topic hasn't arisen in any testimony.

The nature of the alleged threat against Eagleton is something of a mystery. The grand jury didn't specify what it was. Trial jurors have been told only that it was "gossip" of a "tragic nature" that involved Key West, Fla., but the reference to Key West hasn't been explained. A defense attorney told the jury that the material apparently was false and had been intended solely "to get a rise" out of the senator.

Eagleton previously had dismissed the material as "garbage" and "a bunch of nothing." Before the start of the trial, he twice asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to make it public, but the bureau refused, saying that to do so would be against the law.

It isn't clear whether Eagleton will testify at the trial. Incumbent senators rarely are required to testify under oath in an election year. But when Eagleton disclosed the alleged threat at a news conference the day before the Aug. 5 Missouri primary, he offered to testify against his niece.

As a result, the jurors were questioned extensively about how they would view Eagleton's testimony. But prosecutors haven't disclosed their witness list and won't discuss whether the senator will testify.

Attorney for Weigand and Poludniak will try to portray Eagleton in an unfavorable light. Weigand's attorney, for example, told the jury that "Uncle Tommy" had "shunned" repeated requests by his niece for counsel after her father, Dr. Mark D. Eagleton, suffered a serious stroke.

The attorney, Leonard J. Frankel, also told the jurors that the charges against Weigand grew out of a family dispute involving a "tremendous problem of miscommunication" between the senator and Mark Eagleton's children over alleged irregularities in the family-owned business, the Missouri Pipe Fittings Co. of St. Louis.

Weigand and Poludniak may offer antagonistic defense. Poludniak's attorney didn't make an opening statement, but Frankel told the jury that Weigand wrote out three pages of "gossip" -- later seized by the FBI and expected to be introduced in the trial -- at Poludniak's urging after he told her that to do so didn't violate the law.

The trial already has taken some unusual twists. After rejecting repeated defense requests to move the trial from St. Louis because of pretrial publicity and Eagleton's influence as a senator, Chief U.S. District Judge H. Kenneth Wangelin agreed to a defense request to question all prospective jurors in his chambers about their attitudes toward Eagleton and the Church of Scientology.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch then sought and obtained an emergency hearing from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals here. The appellate court ruled that the closed-door questioning was "inappropriate," and ordered Wangelin to examine in public the jurors who hadn't been questioned.

Eagleton has been in political white-water before. In 1972, Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern chose Eagleton to run for vice president, but Eagleton left the ticket when it was disclosed that he had been hospitalized for psychiatric treatment. Nevertheless, Eagleton has remained popular with Missouri voters.

GRAPHIC: Picture, Eagleton, calling the material "garbage," tried to get the FBI to release it. By James K.W. Atherton -- The Washington Post



Copyright 1980 U.P.I.
October 19, 1980, Sunday, AM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 387 words
HEADLINE: Mysterious briefcase at center of Eagleton extortion trial
BYLINE: By ALICE NOBLE
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

The contents of a black briefcase, which allegedly were used to threaten Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton, D-Mo., may be revealed this week at the extortion trial of the senator's niece, Elizabeth Eagleton Weigand.

The briefase was seized when Mrs. Weigand, 24, and her attorney, Stephen E.Poludniak, were arrested Aug. 3. Both are charged with one count each of extortion and conspiracy.

Eagleton said the two claimed the briefcase contained information damaging to him politically. The senator said they threatened to release the information to the press and his political opponents unless he agreed to purchase Mrs. Weigand's interest in an Eagleton family-owned business for $220,000.

Eagleton has denied that the two had any damaging information, and has asked the Justice Department to reveal the contents of the briefcase. However, federal prosecutors have said the briefcase is evidence in the trial, and cannot be opened out of court.

The only hint of what might be inside the bag came last Thursday during opening statements in the trial. Leonard Frankel, Mrs. Weigand's attorney, said the information she had was ''just gossip.''

Frankel said Mrs. Weigand had learned of the gossip from her sister, Margaret ''Mimi'' Eagleton. He said Mimi Eagleton learned of it while in Key West, Fla.

''That's all it was, just gossip,'' Frankel said.

In the prosecution's opening statement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Reap said the briefcase held ''memorandums of letters regarded as allegedly detrimental information to the senator and Mr. Thyson.''

J.J. Thyson is the manager of the Eagleton business, Missouri Pipe Fittings Co.

Frankel said Mrs. Weigand worried that her actions might be construed as blackmail but Poludniak ''advised her that everything was 100 percent legal and there was nothing wrong with what she was doing.''

Two days were spent last week selecting a jury of seven men and five women. U.S. District Judge H. Kenneth Wangelin questioned jurors closely about their political activism and about the Church of Scientology.

Eagleton said he refused to buy Mrs. Weigand's stock in Missouri Pipe Fittings because he believed she would turn the money over to the Scientologists. Both Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak belong to the church, but have been suspended because of the extortion charges.



The Associated Press
The materials in the AP file were compiled by The Associated Press. These materials may not be republished without the express written consent of The Associated Press.
October 16, 1980, Thursday, PM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 306 words
HEADLINE: Arguments To Begin In Eagleton Extortion Trial To Open
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

A seven-man, five-woman federal jury has been seated to hear opening arguments today in the extortion trial of a niece of Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton.

The jurors were sworn in Wedneqday by U.S. District Judge H. Kenneth Wangelin after an appeals court ruled jury selection must be opened to the public and the press.

Wangelin had privately interviewed 51 potential jurors over two days on their views of the Church of Scientology and whether they thought they would be influenced by the fact that Eagleton represents Missouri in the U.S. Senate.

Eagleton's niece, Elizabeth Weigand, and her former attorney, Steven Poludniak, are accused of trying to extort $220,000 from a family-owned business by threatening to release information purportedly harmful to the Democratic senator's reputation.

The alleged plot involved purchase of stock Mrs. Weigand owns in Missouri Pipefittings Co. Eagleton said he refused to buy the stock because he feared profits would be turned over to the Church of Scientology, to which both Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak belong.

The church has denied involvement in the alleged scheme.

Wangelin did not sequester the jury, but instructed the panel not to discuss the case. He ordered jurors not to read newspaper accounts or watch television stories about the trial.

Mrs. Weigand's attorney, Leonard Frankel, had contended it would be impossible for the defendants to get a fair trial in St. Louis because of publicity about the case.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch filed an emergency appeal with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after Wangelin denied a reporter's request to hold the second phase of jury examination in public. The appeals court ordered Wangelin to conduct interviews with the remaining three jurors publicly and ordered a transcript of previous examinations to be made public.



Copyright 1980 U.P.I.
October 16, 1980, Thursday, PM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 326 words
BYLINE: By ALICE NOBLE
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

A federal prosecutor told jurors today a niece of Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton, D-Mo., agreed to a plot to extort $220,000 from the senator by threatening to make public damaging information about him.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael W. Reap said a tape-recorded conversation would show the niece, Elizabeth Weigand, discussed the scheme with her former attorney, Stephen Poludniak.

Mrs. Weigand, 24, and Poludniak, 29, are charged with one count each of extortion and conspiracy.

''I don't want to harm Tommy,'' Reap quoted Mrs. Weigand as saying. ''I want what I want. This obviously is the only way I can do it.''

He said Poludniak and Mrs. Weigand wanted Eagleton to buy Mrs. Weigand's 6.5 percent share in an Eagleton family-owned business, Missouri Pipe Fittings Co. If he refused, the pair threatened to release to the news media damaging information about Eagleton just prior to the Aug. 5 primary election, Reap said.

The prosecutor said that in another conversation, Poludniak described the ''damaging information'' as follows: ''It definitely involves misconduct. It can be refuted by the election but the damage will already have been done by then.''

Eagleton called a news conference the day before the August primary to announce the plot. He won re-nomination over token opposition the next day.

The senator has twice asked the FBI to make public the alleged damaging information, but the agency has withheld it as evidence to be used in the trial.

Eagleton has said his niece and Poludniak wanted to give the $220,000 to the Church of Scientology. The church, which has denied involvement, has suspended both from membership until the case is resolved.

Seven men and five women were picked for the jury Wednesday. The 12 jurors and four alternates were selected Wednesday from among 79 prospective jurors.

Jury members are not sequestered but were cautioned not to discuss the trial and to avoid news reports of the case.


The Associated Press
The materials in the AP file were compiled by The Associated Press. These materials may not be republished without the express written consent of The Associated Press.
October 15, 1980, Wednesday, AM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 343 words
HEADLINE: Jury Selected in Eagleton Extortion Trial
BYLINE: By CRAIG HORST, Associated Press Writer
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

A jury was sworn in Wednesday in the extortion trial of the niece of Sen. Thomas Eagleton, D-Mo., after a federal appeals court ruled examination of prospective jurors could not be held in private.

The seven-man, five-woman jury was sworn in by U.S. District Judge H. Kenneth Wangelin after 77 potential jurors were questioned over two days. Wangelin said opening arguments in the case would be made Thursday.

Eagleton's niece, Elizabeth Weigand, and a co-defendant, Steven Poludniak, are charged with attempting to extort $220,000 from a family owned business by threatening to release information allegedly harmful to Eagleton's reputation.

The alleged plot involved purchase of stock Mrs. Weigand owns in Missouri Pipefittings Co. Eagleton said he refused to buy the stock because he feared profits would be turned over to the Church of Scientology. Both Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak are members of the church.

The Church of Scientology has denied involvement in the alleged scheme.

Wangelin instructed the jurors not to discuss the case among themselves or with friends and relatives. He ordered the jurors not to read newspaper accounts or watch television stories about the trial. However, Wangelin did not order the jury sequestered.

Mrs. Weigand's attorney, Leonard Frankel, had said it would be impossible for the defendants to get a fair trial in St. Louis because of publicity about the case.

In the opening day of interviews with the jurors, Wangelin asked if they had seen media accounts of the extortion charges. The judge then began interviewing 51 of the jurors privately to ask questions about personal beliefs regarding Eagleton and the Church of Scientology.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch filed an emergency appeal with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after Wangelin denied a reporter's request to conduct the second phase of the examination in public. The appeals court ordered Wangelin to conduct interviews with the remaining three jurors publicly and ordered a transcript of previous examinations to be made public.


Copyright 1980 U.P.I.
October 15, 1980, Wednesday, AM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 483 words
BYLINE: By ALICE NOBLE
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

A jury of seven men and five women was chosen Wednesday in the federal trial of Elizabeth Weigand, accused of trying to extort $220,000 from her uncle, Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton, D-Mo.

The selection was completed after two days of legal wrangling over whether the judge in the case had the right to question prospective jurors in sessions closed to the public and press.

Government lawyers will begin presenting their case Thursday morning.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier Wednesday ordered Chief U.S. District Judge H. Kenneth Wangelin to stop screening the jury panel in his private chambers.

The order was issued at the request of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which contended the closed-door questioning violated constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press.

Wangelin said he had taken the unusual step because of concern about the publicity the trial had attracted.

Selection of jurors began Tuesday for the trial, in which Mrs. Weigand, 24, and her former attorney, Stephen Poludniak, 29, are charged with one count each of extortion and conspiracy.

Eagleton has said the pair threatened to make public alleged damaging information about him unless he bought Mrs. Weigand's share of an Eagleton family-owned business for $220,000. The senator said Mrs. Weigand wanted to give the money to the Church of Scientology.

Wangelin told reporters he had been asking each potential juror whether the person would be unduly influenced by the expected testimony of Eagleton and whether each had any prejudice toward the Church of Scientology.

The Post-Dispatch argued such questions could have been asked in open court.

''To argue that certain members of the public, that is the (members of the jury panel) have a right to hear the questions being asked, but other members of the public do not, is on its face absurd,'' the newspaper said in its appeal.

Speaking for a three-judge panel of the appeals court, Judge Donald R. Ross ordered Wangelin to question the remainder of the jury panel in open court and to make public the transcripts of the closed-door questioning.

Ross said the questioning in chambers ''was inappropriate in the absence of inquiries as to alternate solutions and the absence of the right of the public to attend.''

Wangelin said at least two answers he received from prospective jurors in his chambers ''would have been highly prejudicial'' if they had been heard by the rest of the jury panel.

''In my further opinion, had the press had the information and had the information been widely disseminated, it might have made it exceedingly difficult to assure a fair trial,'' he said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathy Anne Knaup said Wangelin's areas of questioning were sensitive because ''we were seeking opinions on politics and religion. The public doesn't have a right to know if a juror has political biases or prejudices.''



The Associated Press
The materials in the AP file were compiled by The Associated Press. These materials may not be republished without the express written consent of The Associated Press.
October 14, 1980, Tuesday, AM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 353 words
HEADLINE: Judge Interviews Prospective Jurors In Eagleton Extortion Trial
BYLINE: By CRAIG HORST, Associated Press Writer
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

A federal judge privately interviewed 49 prospective jurors Tuesday as the jury selection process continued in the extortion trial of Elizabeth Weigand, the niece of Sen. Thomas Eagleton.

U.S. District Judge H. Kenneth Wangelin said he hoped to select a jury on Wednesday.

Wangelin interviewed the jurors separately to ask if they would be swayed by testimony from Eagleton, D-Mo., or by evidence relating to the Church of Scientology.

Two jurors were dismissed after questioning, Wangelin said. The defense will have the option to dismiss 10 jurors while the prosecution can dismiss six, the judge said.

Mrs. Weigand and her former attorney, Steven Poludniak, are charged with attempting to extort $220,000 from a family-owned business. Prosecutors allege Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak attempted to force Missouri Pipe Fittings Co. to buy stock Mrs. Weigand owned by threatening to release information harmful to Eagleton's reputation.

Eagleton called a news conference on the eve of the state's Aug. 4 primary election to make the extortion charges. Eagleton said the information allegedly in Mrs. Weigand's possession was a "bunch of nothing."

At the news conference, Eagleton said he refused to authorize the sale of the stock because he feared profits would be turned over to the Church of Scientology. Both Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak are members of the church.

The church has denied involvement in the alleged scheme and suspended Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak pending the outcome of the trial.

Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak were later charged with extortion and conspiracy in a federal grand jury indictment.

Wangelin called 77 prospective jurors after heavy publicity about the case. The judge earlier denied a request to move the trial from St. Louis as defense attorneys contended they would be unable to get a fair trial because of the publicity and because of Eagleton's position.

Attorneys for both the defense and the prosecution refused comment on the case because Wangelin has said he would not order the jury sequestered. Neither side would say if it planned to call Eagleton to testify.



The Associated Press
The materials in the AP file were compiled by The Associated Press. These materials may not be republished without the express written consent of The Associated Press.
October 14, 1980, Tuesday, PM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 196 words
HEADLINE: Eagleton Niece To Go On Trial
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

Prospective jurors were called to U.S. District Court today to be scrutinized by defense lawyers and prosecutors for the trial of a niece of Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton on charges of trying to extort $220,000 from the senator.

Elizabeth Eagleton Weigand, 24, and her former lawyer, Stephen Poludniak, 29, were indicted last month on charges of conspiracy and extortion. Poludniak will be tried with Mrs. Weigand.

Jury selection was to begin today. Both defendants have pleaded innocent to the charges.

Eagleton, a Missouri Democrat, claimed Mrs. Weigand threatened to release information she said would be damaging to him unless he paid her the money in exchange for shares she owned in Missouri Pipe Fittings Co., a family business.

The senator exposed the alleged extortion attempt Aug. 4, a day after Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak were arrested. They later were released pending the grand jury inquiry that led to their indictment.

Eagleton later blamed his niece's actions on the Church of Scientology, to which she belonged. Church spokesmen have denied any church involvement and said Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak had been suspended from some church activities.



Copyright 1980 The New York Times Company The New York Times
October 13, 1980, Monday, Late City Final Edition
SECTION: Section 2; Page 6, Column 1; National Desk
LENGTH: 888 words
HEADLINE: EAGLETON LEADS MISSOURI SENATE POLLS
BYLINE: By REGINALD STUART, Special to the New York Times
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS, Oct. 9
BODY:

Senator Thomas F. Eagleton, Democrat of Missouri, one of the Federal lawmakers named as targets by national conservative groups, is holding onto a comfortable margin in the polls against Gene McNary, the popular St. Louis County Supervisor.

However, Mr. Eagleton and his aides said in an interview this week that they had been surprised by Mr. McNary's ability to raise approximately $1 million to fuel his campaign.

Mr. McNary, now in his second term in office, served in 1976 as Missouri chairman of the Gerald Ford for President committee. Elected county prosecutor in 1966 by a 40,000-vote margin, Mr. McNary, a Muncie, Ind., native, has won a string of political victories, the exception being his unsuccessful bid in the 1972 Republican gubernatorial primary. That race was won decisively by Christopher Bond, who won in the general election.

A statewide poll by The St. Louis Globe-Democrat and KMOX-TV, released this week, gave Mr. Eagleton a ''landslide'' 2-to-1 lead over Mr. McNary, giving him a margin of 59 percent to 30 percent, with 10 percent undecided and 1 percent preferring someone else. The poll questioned 663 registered voters statewide. Private polls taken by the staffs of both candidates have reflected basically the same bottom line, although their percentages differ somewhat.

Poll Findings Questioned

But both camps cautioned that the findings might be misleading. ''I'm not addicted to polls,'' said Mr. Eagleton at his Senate office here. ''figures outside the metropolitan St. Louis area are obviously going to narrow.''

Tracy Mann, staff manager at the McNary for Senate headquarters in Clayton, the county seat, said: ''Don't believe the Globe-Democrat poll because traditionally it has shown Republicans behind against a history of late-breaking groundswells. We aren't going to panic as long as our fund raising doesn't fall off. This candidacy is a good long shot.'' The Globe-Democrat has endorsed Mr. McNary.

Of crucial importance in this and other statewide elections is the outcome of voting in St. Louis County, the cluster of conservative, predominantly white communities around the shrinking and largely black city of St. Louis. Since 1960 the Democratic margin of victory has been declining in the state because of population and socioeconomic shifts.

The bid to unseat Mr. Eagleton by Mr. McNary and others that share his objectives, such as the National Conservative Political Action Committee, has been plagued by several developments, all of which have helped Mr. Eagleton.

The political action committee has spent thousands of dollars in neighboring Middle Western states in an effort to help defeat Democrats the fund's backers consider to be too liberal. But plans for a similar effort in Missouri, with proposed spending of $250,000, were blunted even before the campaign picked up steam at summer's end.

Advertising Campaign Rejected

After running an early round of advertisements attacking Mr. Eagleton, some newspapers and television stations refused to accept advertising from the organization, and several newspapers ran editorials strongly urging the group to cease its activities in Missouri, warning that they were unwelcome.

Furthermore, Mr. Eagleton is not as vulnerable to attack on conservative issues as some of his colleagues. He opposes abortion, for example, and has come down firmly against Adminstration-ordered busing for desegregation, although he opposes the proposal to prohibit busing through a constitutional amendment.

Mr. McNary, meanwhile, has had some problems is nailing down his opponent. He has attacked Mr. Eagleton for supporting the Panama Canal Treaty, but then, this week, he brought in former President Ford for a fund-raising dinner. Mr. Ford also supported the treaty.

In a televised debate, Mr. McNary also apparently rubbed some Missouri voters the wrong way when he criticized Mr. Eagleton for his help in getting ''pork barrel'' Federal funds to help replace the roof on the privately owned Kemper Arena in Kansas City and landing a $225 million Internal Revenue Service office for Kansas City.

In the homestretch, both candidates plan sweeping tours of the state's rural areas, where neither side can afford to lose voter support in any measureable as they battle for the decisive voter margins in St. Louis county.

Mr. Eagleton's campaign will be interrupted next week for several days while he testifies for the prosecution in an extortion trial. The case involves a niece who allegedly demanded that he purchase her interest in the family business so that she could give the funds to the Church of Scientology, threatening disclosure of allegedly damaging information about him if he did not make the purchase.

Neither candidate has brought this situation into the campaign. Mr. Eagleton, who was dropped from the 1972 George McGovern Presidential ticket after it was disclosed that he had had shock treatment on at least one occasion, said that he knew of no damaging information that his niece might disclose.



Copyright 1980 U.P.I.
October 13, 1980, Monday, PM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 231 words
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton, D-Mo., says his niece tried to extort $220,000 from the family business by threatening to ruin his reputation, but defense attorneys say the matter is just a family dispute that should not be dragged into the courts.

Eagleton's niece, Elizabeth Eagleton Weigand, and Stephen E. Poludniak, her former attorney, are charged with trying to extort the money from the Missouri Pipe Fittings Co., in which Mrs. Weigand holds an interest. The two also were indicted for conspiracy in an alleged plot to tarnish the senator's reputation.

Jury selection begins Tuesday, with about 80 persons summoned as potential jurors. U.S. District Judge H. Kenneth Wangelin said he summoned twice the normal number of prospective jurors because of pre-trial publicity.

Defense attorneys are expected to argue the charges amount to little more than a family dispute that should be settled out of court.

Eagleton made the case public on the eve of the Democratic primary Aug. 5, when he called a news conference and accused his niece and Poludniak of trying to extort the money from him by threatening to make public material that allegedly would damage his reputation.

Eagleton said the money was going to be turned over to the Church of Scientology, which has denied any wrongdoing in the case. Both Mrs. Weigand, 24, and Poludniak, 29, are members of the church.



Copyright 1980 U.P.I.
September 30, 1980, Tuesday, PM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 218 words
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

A federal magistrate says he will review video tapes of local news programs before deciding whether to grant a change of venue in the trial of Elizabeth Weigand, accused of trying to extort $220,000 from Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton, D-Mo.

An attorney for Mrs. Weigand told U.S. Magistrate William S. Bahn Monday his client could not get a fair trial because of publicity and Eagleton's position in politics unless the trial is moved out of the state.

Bahn said he would rule later this week on the request after viewing video tapes of local news broadcasts about the case. The trial had been scheduled to begin Oct. 14.

Government attorneys have argued Mrs. Weigand has only herself to blame for a large amount of the publicity because of public comments by her lawyers.

Mrs. Weigand's attorney, Stephen E. Poludniak, also was charged in the alleged extortion plot and was to stand trial with her.

The government says the two sought to force Eagleton to buy Mrs. Weigand's stock in a family corporation for $220,000 by saying they would release damaging information about the senator to the press and his political opponents.

Eagleton said he refused the demand because he believed Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak planned to turn the money over to the Church of Scientology, to which they belong.



Copyright 1980 The New York Times Company The New York Times
September 26, 1980, Friday, Late City Final Edition
SECTION: Section A; Page 17, Column 1; National Desk
LENGTH: 917 words
HEADLINE: FAMILY FEUD PLACES FOCUS ON EAGLETON
BYLINE: By NATHANIEL SHEPPARD Jr., Special to the New York Times
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS, Sept. 19
BODY:

A dispute over the sale of stock in a familyheld business has thrust Senator Thomas F. Eagleton into a bitter public feud with a 24-year-old niece at a time when the Missouri Democrat is engaged in a tough re-election bid.

The controversy has been further complicated by the recent indictments of the niece, Elizabeth Eagleton Weigand, and her attorney, Stephen E. Poludniak, and inferences by the Senator that the Church of Scientology was responsible for the dispute.

Both Mrs. Weigand and Mr. Poludniak are members of the Church of Scientology. They are accused in Federal indictments of extortion for allegedly threatening to make public personally and politically damaging information about the Senator if he did not agree to buy out Mrs. Weigand's interest in the family business, the Missouri Pipe Fittings Company.

Mrs. Weigand, the daughter of Senator Eagleton's brother, Mark, owns a 6.25 percent interest in the business and wanted to sell her interest back to the company for $220,000. Senator Eagleton, who owns 50 percent of the business, refused the deal, saying it would violate the terms of the trust agreement that governs disposal of sale of the company's stock.

Beginning of Dispute

The dispute had been brewing at least since last January, when Mrs. Weigand, her sister, Mimi, who also is a Scientologist, and a brother, David, met with Senator Eagleton and the manager of the family business to request increases in the allowances that they receive from interest on the stock they own and more voice in how the business is run.

In April, Mrs. Weigand offered to sell her interest in the business and was turned down. The Senator was reported to have said, '' Scientology is not going to take over our business.''

In July, William E. Buckley, a former law partner and close friend of Senator Eagleton as well as treasurer of his re-election campaign, told the Senator he had received what he believed to be extortion demands from Mrs. Weigand and her attorney, Mr. Poludniak.

Senator Eagleton, who had said that he received letters from his niece in which veiled threats were made, said he then called the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

An agent said the bureau then monitored subsequent telephone conversations between Mrs. Weigand and her attorney and managers of Missouri Pipe Fittings.

In one conversation the two defendants are alleged to have offered to turn over a briefcase containing the allegedly damaging information on Senator Eagleton as well as Mrs. Weigand's 6.25 percent interest in the business in exchange for a check for $220,000.

A meeting of Mrs. Weigand and Mr. Poludniak with J.J. Thyson, manager-director of Missouri Pipe Fittings, and Mr. Buckley was set for Sunday, Aug. 3, at a public building.

Arrests by F.B.I. Agents

Mrs. Weigand and Mr. Poludniak were arrested by Federal agents when they showed up for the meeting, and a briefcase carried by Mr. Poludniak was confiscated.

In a statement filed in United States Magistrate Court, the bureau said that Mrs. Weigand and Mr. Poludniak had threatened to release derogatory information, including photographs and affadavits, about Senator Eagleton before the August primary election and the November general election unless he went along with her demands that he buy her shares in the family business.

Sources familiar with the nature of the confiscated materials said it related to operation of the family business as well as personal matters.

Senator Eagleton has publicly said that he wants the materials made public. But he knows that it cannot be made public because it is part of the Government's evidence in the extortion case. And the Senator refuses to make public on his own the details of the allegations that he does know about.

For example, one of the letters the Senator has said he received from Mrs. Weigand is said to make reference to a visit her sister made to Florida. Senator Eagleton will not discuss the letter.

Senator Calls News Conference

The dispute between Senator Eagleton and his niece became public Aug. 4 when he called a news conference in St. Louis to announce the arrests of his niece and her attorney.

''Libby is member of the Church of Scientology as is her husband, her sister and her lawyer,'' Senator Eagleton told newsmen. ''Libby has been and still is heavily influenced by this group.'' Her husband is the Rev. Scott Weigand.

The Church of Scientology was not mentioned in the indictments and has denied any involvement in the matter. Senator Eagleton has refused to explain or clarify why he believes the church is behind the controversy.

Susan Worstell, a spokesman for the Church of Scientology in St. Louis, said: ''Senator Eagleton is a politician faced with a personally embarassing situation. He attempted to weave whole cloth out of slender thread and ended up with a suit as revealing as the emperor's new clothes.''

Mrs. Worstell said that Mrs. Weigand and Mr. Poludniak had been suspended from active membership in the church pending full investigation of the alleged extortion attempt.

''Any such act would violate the creed and policies of the church,'' she said. The controversy came to light just days before the Democratic primary election in Missouri, but had no apparent negative impact on the Senator, who defeated his nominal opponents by a lopsided margin.

Any impact that it might have on his general election fight against Gene McNary, the Republican St. Louis County Superviser, was not clear.



The Associated Press
The materials in the AP file were compiled by The Associated Press. These materials may not be republished without the express written consent of The Associated Press.
September 10, 1980, Wednesday, AM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 335 words
HEADLINE: Niece and Lawyer Plead Innocent To Extorion
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

A niece of Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton and her former attorney pleaded innocent Wednesday to charges that they attempted to extort $220,000 from the Missouri Democrat's family business.

Elizabeth Eagleton Weigand, 23, and Stephen Poludniak, 29, turned themselves in to U.S. Magistrate William S. Bahn a day after being indicted by a federal grand jury.

The two were charged with attempting to extort the money and to harm the reputations of Eagleton and J.J. Thyson, managing director of Missouri Pipe Fittings Co.

Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak were arrested Aug. 3 on a complaint filed by Eagleton. They were released about an hour later when the complaint was dismissed and the case was turned over to the grand jury, which handed up the indictments Tuesday.

Chief U.S. District Judge H. Kenneth Wangelin set trial for Oct. 14.

If convicted, Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak face maximum penalties of seven years in prison and fines totaling $10,500.

Eagleton told a news conference the day after his niece's arrest that she and Poludniak had threatened to release derogatory information about him unless he and the company business paid $220,000 for company stock she held. Poludniak represented Mrs. Weigand in her efforts to sell the stock.

Both Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak are members of the Church of Scientology, and Eagleton said he believed the church had influenced his niece in the case. The church denied that allegation, saying it considered the incident a family squabble.

Roy Pfautch, a campaign consultant for Gene McNary, Eagleton's Republican opponent this November, said he had received a call last month from a man who identified himself as Poludniak.

"The man said he had information about the 'Eagleton record' that we should have," Pfautch said. But he said a return call to Poludniak's office found Poludniak unavailable and that was the end of the contact.

"We would not have touched any type of personal information," the campaign aide said. "That's not our style of campaigning."



The Associated Press
The materials in the AP file were compiled by The Associated Press. These materials may not be republished without the express written consent of The Associated Press.
September 9, 1980, Tuesday, AM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 345 words
HEADLINE: Grand Jury To Conclude Eagleton Extortion Inquiry
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted the niece of Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton on charges of trying to extort $220,000 from the Missouri Democrat.

Elizabeth Eagleton Weigand, 23, and her attorney, Stephen Poludniak, were each indicted on two counts. One accused them of threatening to injure the reputations of Eagleton and J.J. Thyson, director of Missouri Pipe Fittings Co., the Eagleton family company.

The second count alleges Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak used the telephone to make extortion threats.

Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak were arrested Aug. 3 on a complaint filed by Eagleton. They were released shortly thereafter when the complaint was dismissed and the case went to the grand jury.

Poludniak represented Mrs. Weigand in her attempts to sell her shares of Missouri Pipe Fittings. He could not immediately be reached for comment on the indictments.

"She feels very disappointed that she has been charged," said Leonard Frankel, who is representing Mrs. Weigand in the case. "She has not been involved in any illegal activity or had any intent to commit any illegal act. We feel she'll vindicated at trial."

Eagleton, who is running for re-election, said at a news conference Aug. 4, the day before the Missouri primary election, that the two threatened to release derogatory information about him unless the company bought $220,000 worth of shares held by Mrs. Weigand.

The material to which Eagleton referred was seized by the FBI when the two were arrested, and the government has resisted attempts by the senator to have the information made public.

Eagleton has maintained that although he has not seen the material, it could not harm him personally or politically. The senator said that while he has no direct proof, he believed the Church of Scientology in St. Louis influenced Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak. Both have been suspended from some activities by the church, which denies any connection with the case and considers it a family dispute.

A spokesman for Eagleton's office said the senator would have no comment on the indictment.



The Associated Press
The materials in the AP file were compiled by The Associated Press. These materials may not be republished without the express written consent of The Associated Press.
September 7, 1980, Sunday, AM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 304 words
HEADLINE: Eagleton Asks for Release of Material
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton, D-Mo., has asked for the release of material seized by the FBI during an investigation of what Eagleton described as an extortion plot against him.

Eagleton said Saturday that he has appealed to the Justice Department for the release of evidence seized from Elizabeth Eagleton Weigand, the senator's niece, and Stephen Poludniak, an attorney, when they were arrested Aug. 3.

Eagleton said at a news conference the next day that his niece and the attorney threatened to release information damaging to his political career unless he arranged from a family owned company to buy Mrs. Weigand's shares in the company for $220,000.

The senator said that although he does not know exactly what was in the briefcase taken from the pair, he wants the information released because he doesn't believe it could hurt him personally or politically.

"It's not been told to me or read to me," Eagleton said Saturday. "Once it's put in public view, I can intelligently comment on it."

In a letter to the Justice Department last week, Eagleton said: "It is imperative to me in the protection of my own reputation and imperative to the public's right to know, that this material be released to the public forthwith."

Eagleton claimed the Church of Scientology influenced his niece in her attempts to get the money. The church has denied any connection with the case.

No charges have yet been filed against Mrs. Weigand or Poludniak but the case remains under investigation. The FBI said it could not release the material because it is evidence in the case.

The complaint against the two was dismissed Aug. 4 and they were released pending the results of a federal grand jury probe.

The senator is currently seeking re-election in a race against Republican St. Louis County Executive Gene McNary.



The Associated Press
The materials in the AP file were compiled by The Associated Press. These materials may not be republished without the express written consent of The Associated Press.
September 6, 1980, Saturday, AM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 283 words
HEADLINE: Eagleton Asks for Release of Material
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton, D-Mo., has asked for the release of material seized by the FBI during an investigation of what Eagleton described as an extortion plot against him.

Eagleton said Saturday that he has appealed to the Justice Department for the release of evidence seized from Elizabeth Eagleton Weigand, the senator's niece, and Stephen Poludniak, an attorney, when they were arrested Aug. 3.

Eagleton said at a news conference the next day that his niece and the attorney threatened to release information damaging to his political career unless he arranged from a family owned company to buy Mrs. Weigand's shares in the company for $220,000.

The senator said that although he does not know exactly what was in the briefcase taken from the pair, he wants the information released because he doesn't believe it could hurt him personally or politically.

"It's not been told to me or read to me," Eagleton said Saturday. "Once it's put in public view, I can intelligently comment on it."

In a letter to the Justice Department last week, Eagleton said: "It is imperative to me in the protection of my own reputation and imperative to the public's right to know, that this material be released to the public forthwith."

Eagleton claimed the Church of Scientology influenced his niece in her attempts to get the money. The church has denied any connection with the case.

No charges have yet been filed against Mrs. Weigand or Poludniak but the case remains under investigation. The FBI said it could not release the material because it is evidence in the case.

The senator is currently seeking re-election in a race against Republican St. Louis County Executive Gene McNary.



The Associated Press
The materials in the AP file were compiled by The Associated Press. These materials may not be republished without the express written consent of The Associated Press.
August 21, 1980, Thursday, PM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 326 words
HEADLINE: Paper Says Special Prosecutor To Probe Alleged Extortion Attempt
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

The investigation into an alleged extortion attempt against Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton, D-Mo., will be headed by a special prosecutor from the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice, a newspaper report says.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, citing unnamed sources, said in a copyright story Wednesday that the special prosecutor was requested because of a longstanding friendship between Eagleton and Robert D. Kingsland, the U.S. attorney in St. Louis.

The special prosecutor was to be Donald B. Nicholson, it reported. And a federal grand jury, directed by Nicholson, could begin hearing evidence this week, the paper said.

Kingsland was not available for comment on the Post-Dispatch report.

But he reportedly told the paper, "I have neither seen nor reviewed any of the evidence in this case ... nor have I had any contact whatsoever with Sen. Eagleton since the beginning of this case."

Eagleton's niece, Libby Eagleton Weigand, 23, was arrested Aug. 3 along with her lawyer, Stephen E. Poludniak, 29, by the FBI in connection with a complaint that was later dismissed.

The next day, the senator said the two had threatened to release information that they claimed would damage his political and personal reputation unless he purchased Mrs. Weigand's shares in a family-owned company for $220,000.

Eagleton called the information possessed by Mrs. Weigand "a bunch of nothing," adding that he refused to buy his niece's shares of Missouri Pipe Fittings Co. because of her affiliation with the Church of Scientology.

Documents in a briefcase were seized from Poludniak by FBI agents, but they have not been made public. The arrests later were labeled a "political ploy" by Poludniak.

Top Justice Department officials will review the file on the alleged extortion, Kingsland told the Post-Dispatch, "to determine whether it is prosecutable federal offense and whether it's the type of case that the department wants to prosecute."



Copyright 1980 The Washington Post The Washington Post
August 21, 1980, Thursday, Final Edition
SECTION: First Section; A7
LENGTH: 736 words
HEADLINE: Prosecutor Named in Eagleton Case
BYLINE: By Edward H. Kohn, Special to The Washington Post
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS, Aug. 20, 1980
BODY:

The Justice Department has named an outside prosecutor to investigate allegations that Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton (D-Mo.) was the victim of an extortion attempt by his niece.

The FBI has accused the senator's niece and her attorney, both members of the Church of Scientology of Missouri, of attempting to extort $220,000 from Eagelton by threatening to release material damaging to his reputation.

Eagleton disclosed the alleged extortion attempt at a new conference on Aug. 4, the day before the Missouri primary election. He termed the allegations about damaging material "a bunch of garbage." The material, which allegedly was gathered by private investigators in Elizabeth (Libby" Eagleton Weigand's employ, hasn't been disclosed. Eagleton easily won renomination for his Senate seat.

Robert D. Kingsland, the U.S. attorney here, formally asked the Justice Department for a special prosecutor last week.

Kingsland, who formely served on Eagleton's Senate staff said he decided to ask for an outside prosecutor "because I have become aware of persistent questions and rumors regarding the handling of this case." The rumors were that he and Eagleton had agreed to suppress all of the evidence in the matter, he said, and are false.

He said, "I have neither seen nor reviewed any of the evidence in this case . . . nor have I had any contact whatsoever with Sen. Eagelton since the beginning of this case, nor have I had any role in the decisions that have been made in this case." He said that as soon as the FBI filed a complaint against the niece and her attorney 2 1/2 weeks ago, he took himself out of the case and assigned it to two assistants. The FBI complaint has been dismissed, but the investigation into the allegations continued.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch disclosed the appointment of the special prosecutor, Donald B. Nicholson, in a copyrighted story today. Although there hasn't been a firm decision to seek an indictment, the Post-Dispatch reported, a grand jury guided by Nicholson could begin hearing evidence in the case late this week or may be called into special session next week.

"I expect his will be resolved one way or the other within two weeks," one source said.

At his Aug. 4 new conference, Eagleton said his nece had threatened to give the allegedly damaging information to reporters unless Eagleton or a family-owned business, the Missouri Pine Fittings Co., bought her 6.25 percent interst in the company for $220,000.

Proceeds from the sale of the stock were to given to the Church of Scientology, Eagelton said, adding that his niece had "allowed the church to steal her mind."

The Church of Scientology had denied any involvement in the matter. Weigand has refused to speak with reporters. Her attorney, Stephen E. Poludniak, telephoned a reporter to say that the FBI's extortion complaint was "a political ploy."

Two weeks ago, Weigand and Poludniak were subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury. But their subpoenas were dismissed by the U.S. attorney's office. The Post-Dispatch reported that their appearance before the grand jury had been sought so that they could give handwriting samples, but that samples had been obtained without their having to appear.

Weigand and Poludniak were arrested Aug. 3 after they met with two of Eagleton's associates, J. J. Thyson and William E. Buckley, both lawyers. Thyson is managing director of Missouri Piepe Fittings Co. and was also reported to be a target of the alleged extortion attempt. Buckley is Eagleton's personal attorney.

After their arrest, Weigand and Poludniak were taken befor a federal magistrate. At a hearing before the magistrate, however, prosecutors dropped their complaint against the two, saying that the matter needed more investigation.

When Poludniak was arrested, agents seized a briefcase he was carrying. An inventory of its contents showed it contained some unsigned, handwritten notes as well as financial documents related to the Missouri Pipe Fittings Co. The documents haven't been made public.

Elizabeth Weigand is married to the Rev. Scott Weigand, who is on the staff of the Church of Scientology of Missouri.

An assistant to Eagleton said Wednesday "the prosectution of this case is in the hands of the Department of Justice and I an sure that it will make its best effort to proceed both fairly and expeditiously in bringing



The Associated Press
The materials in the AP file were compiled by The Associated Press. These materials may not be republished without the express written consent of The Associated Press.
August 20, 1980, Wednesday, AM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 330 words
HEADLINE: Paper Says Special Prosecutor To Probe Alleged Extortion Attempt
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

A special prosecutor from the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice will head the investigation into an alleged extortion attempt against Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton, D-Mo., a newspaper reported Wednesday.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, citing unnamed sources, said in a copyright report that the special prosecutor was requested because of a longstanding friendship between Eagleton and Robert D. Kingsland, the U.S. attorney in St. Louis. It said the special prosecutor would be Donald B. Nicholson.

Kingsland was out of the city and was not available for comment on the Post-Dispatch report.

"I have neither seen nor reviewed any of the evidence in this case ... nor have I had any contact whatsoever with Sen. Eagleton since the beginning of this case," Kingsland reportedly told the Post Dispatch. The newspaper said a federal grand jury, directed by Nicholson, could begin hearing evidence this week.

Eagleton's niece, Libby Eagleton Weigand, 23, was arrested Aug. 3 along with her lawyer, Stephen E. Poludniak, 29, by the FBI in connection with a complaint which was later dismissed.

At a news conference the next day, the senator said the two threatened to release information which they claimed would damage his political and personal reputation unless he purchased Mrs. Weigand's shares in a family-owned company for $220,000.

Eagleton termed the information possessed by Mrs. Weigand "a bunch of nothing," adding that he refused to buy his niece's shares of Missouri Pipe Fittings Co. because of her affiliation with the Church of Scientology.

Documents in a briefcase seized from Poludniak by FBI agents have not been made public. The arrests were later labeled a "political ploy" by Poludniak.

Top Justice Department officials will review the file on the alleged extortion, Kingsland told the Post-Dispatch, "to determine whether it is prosecutable federal offense and whether it's the type of case that the department wants to prosecute."



The Associated Press
The materials in the AP file were compiled by The Associated Press. These materials may not be republished without the express written consent of The Associated Press.
August 6, 1980, Wednesday, AM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 228 words
HEADLINE: Grand Jury To Hear Eagleton Extortion Case Friday
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

A federal grand jury will meet Friday to hear evidence in an alleged attempt by Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton's 23-year-old niece tried to extort money from the Missouri Democrat, according to people who have been subpoenaed to appear.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has alleged that Libby Eagleton Weigand and her attorney, Stephen E. Poludniak, demanded the senator or a family-owned business buy Mrs. Weigand's company shares for $220,000 or they would release information harmful to Eagleton.

Eagleton was renominated for his Senate seat in Tuesday's state Democratic primary election.

Poludniak Hps been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury Friday and again Aug. 21, according to Paul Passante, Poludniak's attorney.

Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak were arrested Sunday by FBI agents after they met with two associates of Eagleton's, J.J. Thyson and William E. Buckley. Thyson is managing director of the Eagleton family business, Missouri Pipe Fittings Co.

The extortion complaint was dismissed later in the day at the request of the U.S. attorney's office. Prosecutors said the investigation would continue and evidence would be presented to the grand jury.

At a news conference Monday, Eagleton said both his niece and Poludniak were members of the Church of Scientology of Missouri and that Mrs. Weigand would give the money to the church.



The Associated Press
The materials in the AP file were compiled by The Associated Press. These materials may not be republished without the express written consent of The Associated Press.
August 5, 1980, Tuesday, PM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 449 words
HEADLINE: Niece Arrested in Alleged Extortion Plot Against Senator
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

A niece of Sen. Thomas Eagleton was arrested along with her lawyer after allegedly trying to extort $220,000 by threatening to release purportedly damaging information against the Missouri Democrat, Eagleton said.

"There is no such harmful information," the senator said Monday.

Libby Eagleton Weigand and her attorney, Stephen E. Poludniak, were released pending further investigation when a complaint charging the two with extortion was dismissed by U.S. Magistrate David C. Noce, the U.S. attorney's office said. Evidence in the case will be turned over to a grand jury, according to a spokesman for the U.S. attorney.

Eagleton said Mrs. Weigand, 23, threatened to make public damaging information about him unless the Eagleton family business bought her minority interest in the company. She had asked for $220,000 for her stock in Missouri Pipe Fittings Co., he said.

Eagleton said the FBI was called in after "an extortionist demand for money" was made to William E. Buckley, a former law partner of Eagleton's and treasurer of his re-election campaign.

An FBI statement filed in federal magistrate court by Agent Richard Van Matre alleged Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak told the senator's personal attorney last week the material would be released before today's primary election unless the holdings were purchased. The statement alleged the release of more information before the November general election also was threatened.

Eagleton said he denied Mrs. Weigand's request to sell the stock because "we felt the proceeds would have been given to the Church of Scientology, " of which she is a member.

"My opinion is it would have been squandered," Eagleton said. "At the time this matter began to evolve, my feeling was one of stunned dismay. The whole episode is a source of sadness to me personally."

He called on the FBI to make public information found in a confiscated briefcase. But the U.S. attorney said nothing would be made public until the investigation was complete.

Mrs. Weigand refused comment Monday.

The Rev. Larry Worstell of the Church of Scientology said Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak were suspended from the church while it carried out its own investigation.

"If the charges are true, this would be totally against church policy," Worstell said.

Poludniak denied the alleged extortion attempt. "This thing was not any type of extortion or anything of that nature," he said.

Poludniak said Mrs. Weigand wanted to sell the stock to liquidate her investment, adding that "over half" of the $220,000 was in the form of dividends. Under company rules, dividends are automatically re-invested in the company and cannot be collected by Mrs. Weigand, he said.



Copyright 1980 The New York Times Company: Abstracts Information Bank Abstracts NEW YORK TIMES
August 5, 1980, Tuesday
SECTION: Page 8, Column 6
LENGTH: 92 words
JOURNAL-CODE: NYT
ABSTRACT: Elizabeth Eagleton Weigand, niece of Sen Thomas F Eagleton, and her attorney Stephen E Poludniak are arrested and charged with attempting to extort money by asserting they had damaging evidence against Eagleton. Eagleton says his niece threatened to release material that would damage him unless he forced family-own Missouri Pipe Fittings Co buy her stock in company. Says he refused to purchase $220,000 in stock because he believed money would have gone to Church of Scientology. Mrs Weigand and her husband Scott are members of church (S).

The New York Times Company: Abstracts, August 5, 1980



The Associated Press
The materials in the AP file were compiled by The Associated Press. These materials may not be republished without the express written consent of The Associated Press.
August 4, 1980, Monday, AM cycle
SECTION: Domestic News
LENGTH: 526 words
HEADLINE: Senator's Niece And Her Attorney Arrested
DATELINE: ST. LOUIS
BODY:

A niece of Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton, D-Mo., and the niece's lawyer have been arrested in connection with an alleged extortion plot against the senator, Eagleton and the U.S. Attorney's office said.

At a news conference, Eagleton announced the arrest of Libby Eagleton Weigand and Stephen E. Poludniak on Sunday by FBI agents.

Mrs. Weigand, the senator said, had threatened to disclose supposedly damaging information against him because of his refusal to purchase stock she owned in the family's business, Missouri Pipe Fittings Co.

A complaint and a copy of a search warrant were filed by the U.S. Attorney's office with U.S. Magistrate David Noce. The complaint was dismissed pending presentation of the evidence to a grand jury.

Eagleton said he was notified of the alleged extortion demand, including threats aimed at Missouri Pipe Fittings attorney lawyer J. J. Thyson, on July 28.

An FBI statement filed in federal magistrate's court by agent Richard Van Matre said Mrs. Weigand, 23, and Poludniak threatened to release photographs and affidavits they thought would damage Eagleton's reputation.

The two met with the senator's personal attorney last week, the report said, and told him the material would be made public prior to Tuesday's primary election unless her family company holdings were not purchased.

According to Van Matre's statement, the release of more information was threatened prior to the general election in November.

On Sunday, the statement said, a meeting was held at the Missouri Athletic Club in downtown St. Louis and a briefcase containing the alleged derogatory material was seized.

Eagleton, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office declined to describe the nature of the information contained in the alleged demand, although the senator said he had examined the seized material.

"There is no such harmful information, and I have sent a letter to the FBI, requesting that this so-called documented information be made public immediately," Eagleton said in a prepared statement.

The senator said he would testify in any criminal proceedings against his niece.

Eagleton said his niece was given a minority interest in Missouri Pipe Fittings Co. in 1970 by her parents, Dr. and Mrs. Mark D. Eagleton. Mrs. Weigand, he said, was demanding $220,000 for her shares.

Mrs. Weigand's membership in the Church of Scientology was described by Eagleton as the reason for his refusal to purchase the stock.

"My opinion is it (purchase money) would have been squandered," the senator said. "At the time this matter began to evolve, my feeling was one of stunned dismay. The whole episode is a source of sadness to me personally."

The Church of Scientology denied any involvement in the alleged plot.

"After investigating the matter, the church has suspended Mrs. Weigand and Poludniak from membership," said the Rev. Larry Worstell. "I called Sen. Eagleton and told him of the suspensions and that if his accusations are true, it's totally against church policy.

"We understand his concerns, but his comments against the Church of Scientology are misdirected and I have asked him to meet with me on the subject."