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Hubbell pleads guilty in Starr investigation

WASHINGTON -- Longtime presidential friend Webster Hubbell pleaded guilty Wednesday to concealing his and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's legal work on a fraudulent land deal back in Arkansas. Prosecutors recommended no jail time or fine for the felony.

As part of a deal with independent counsel Kenneth Starr, prosecutors asked that Hubbell serve one year of probation. U.S. District Judge James Robertson will decide the sentence.Hubbell also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in a tax-evasion case that revolved around payments he received from friends of the president in 1994 and 1995, while he was under investigation by Starr.

Asked in court whether he would change his previous "innocent" plea on failure to disclose facts to Whitewater investigators, a somber-looking Hubbell answered, "I do."

The former associate attorney general answered the tax charge with one word -- "guilty" -- as his wife, Suzy, watched from the front row.

Starr sat at the prosecution table during the hearing that ended his nearly five years of investigation of Hubbell, who was formerly the No. 3 official at the Justice Department.

The plea halted plans for a trial next month that could have been embarrassing for Hillary Clinton as she explores whether to run for the Senate.

And it finished two separate criminal cases brought last year against Hubbell, who already has served 16 months in prison for an earlier guilty plea in Starr's probe.