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WHITEWATER FIGURE ENTERS GUILTY PLEA

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Former Associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell, a close friend of President Clinton, pleaded guilty Tuesday to tax evasion and mail fraud charges stemming from the Whitewater investigation.

Hubbell, who resigned March 14 from the third-highest post in the Justice Department, admitted that he had taken $394,000 in illegal expense payments from the Rose Law Firm.A former law partner of first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Hubbell, 46, pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion and one count of mail fraud. The maximum penalty on each count is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Hubbell, his voice shaking, addressed the court and apologized for the pain his actions had caused his family, his friends and "people who have placed me in a position of trust."

He said he accepted the consequences of his actions and said he hoped that his guilty plea and apology would be the first step in regaining the trust of his family and friends.

President Clinton issued a statement calling Hubbell an "old friend" and went on to say that "Hillary and I were saddened by today's events.

"We should also remember that Webb is a man who has given much to his family, his community and his country," the statement said.