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Hubbell pleads guilty, gets a year probation

WASHINGTON -- Longtime presidential friend Webster Hubbell was sentenced to a year of probation Wednesday after pleading guilty to concealing aspects of his work involving the failed savings and loan at the center of the Whitewater investigation.

"After five years, it's over," Hubbell said outside the courthouse. "Our lives can begin again."Hubbell's attorney said Starr had agreed "never to investigate or prosecute Hubbell again."

Hubbell, who already had served 16 months in jail for an earlier guilty plea in the Starr probe, insisted somberly, "I told the office of independent counsel, as I told them five years ago, that I have no knowledge of any wrongdoing on behalf of the president or Mrs. Clinton."

As part of a deal, prosecutors had asked for no jail time, restitution or fine on the felony or a second guilty plea on a misdemeanor charge of failure to pay taxes.

Starr suggested the controversy over his investigation of the Clintons has "found its way into the hearts and minds of prospective jurors" and might have tainted the trial if it had gone forward next month as planned.

Hubbell pleaded guilty to a broad concealment charge alleging he hid from investigators his and Hillary Rodham Clinton's legal work for the failed Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan.

But outside the courthouse, the former associate attorney general insisted he was only admitting to one facet of that charge -- that he had failed to disclose to federal regulators a potential conflict of interest before doing work for the government concerning Madison.