DATE: Friday, May 30, 1997 TAG: 9705300688
SECTION: LOCAL PAGE: B4 EDITION: FINAL
SOURCE: BY LYNN WALTZ, STAFF WRITER
DATELINE: NORFOLK LENGTH: 63 lines
EX-BEACH LAWYER, ARRESTED AS FUGITIVE, LEAVES SPANISH
Richard Hirschfeld, a former Virginia Beach lawyer who
was being held in Spain on federal fugitive charges,
has been freed on bail.
Hirschfeld was released while Spanish authorities consider
whether to extradite him to the U.S. on charges he tried
to defraud a federal judge. Apparently, the Spanish
court must determine whether the alleged acts - writing
fraudulent letters to the judge from prison in order
to obtain early parole - are extraditable under Spanish
Hirschfeld fled to Spain in December, asking for political
asylum from federal officials he says have a political
vendetta against him.
Federal prosecutor David Barger was expecting Hirschfeld
to be extradited this summer, he recently told a judge.
The extradition has now been delayed indefinitely, the
Justice Department said Thursday.
Spanish authorities arrested Hirschfeld on the fugitive
charges in January. He had been out of jail since 1995,
when he was released from a U.S. prison after serving
four years for tax fraud.
Hirschfeld has a long history of disputes with federal
authorities, claiming charges against him stem from
a vendetta by a U.S. attorney who believed Hirschfeld
undermined his bid for a federal judgeship by using
his influence with Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
The extradition ruling could take weeks or months, said
John Russell, a spokesman for the Justice Department.
Meanwhile, Hirschfeld is free on $35,000 bail. The conditions
of his bond were not available, but Hirschfeld will
probably have to remain in Spain.
Hirschfeld fled to Spain after he was indicted in November,
and FBI officials and prosecutors argued that he should
not be released because he might flee again.
Hirschfeld is expected to be a key witness in the trial
of a former cellmate arrested this month in a plot to
assault a federal judge. Hirschfeld, in court papers,
was also implicated in that plot.
Joseph Matthew Gaffney II is accused of trying to hire
a federal inmate to assault U.S. District Court Judge
J. Calvitt Clarke. The motive was purportedly in retaliation
for Clarke's rulings in Hirschfeld's tangles with federal
Hirschfeld allegedly arranged the 1993 meeting of Gaffney
and the inmate, during which Gaffney asked the inmate
to assault Clarke by ``taking the victim's glasses off
and throwing acid in the victim's eyes or breaking both
legs,'' according to Gaffney's indictment, unsealed
Hirschfeld was not indicted in the assault case, though
his name appears in Gaffney's indictment 25 times. The
indictment says the FBI believes Hirschfeld orchestrated
the conspiracy against Clarke. Hirschfeld, Gaffney and
the inmate were all in federal prison in Petersburg
at the time.
``I just hope that he remains in Spain now that he's
out of custody so I will have an opportunity to interview
him, so I can best help my client,'' Gaffney's attorney,
Jon Babineau, said Thursday. ``When he was in custody,
I knew where he was and knew I could get to see him.
Hopefully, he'll remain in Spain.''
Babineau said he had no reason to believe Hirschfeld
Babineau says Gaffney's indictment allegedly results
from an elaborate scheme by Hirschfeld to retaliate
against Gaffney. Babineau said he could not discuss
the motive for the retaliation. ILLUSTRATION:
Richard Hirschfeld had asked Spain for political asylum
from officials he says have a political vendetta against