Ex-KKK chief Duke released from prison in Texas

Associated Press/April 9, 2004

Big Spring -- Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke left a federal prison in Big Spring Thursday and headed to an undisclosed halfway house in Louisiana.

"Mr. David Duke was released today, and that's all I can really say," said John Ybarra, prison spokesman.

Duke spokesman Roy Armstrong said in a story in today's Midland Reporter-Telegram that the former Louisiana state representative left Big Spring on a Greyhound bus.

Armstrong said Duke is scheduled to spend a month in the halfway house.

Duke turned himself in at Big Spring in April 2003.

Duke was sentenced to 15 months in prison and fined $10,000 for bilking his supporters and cheating on his taxes. After completing his sentence, Duke was scheduled to have two years of supervised release.

In a plea bargain finalized in December 2002, Duke pleaded guilty to falsely reporting a gross income of $18,831 in 1998, rather than the actual $65,034, and to bilking supporters.

The mail fraud charge stemmed from what prosecutors described as a six-year scheme between 1993 and 1999 to swindle thousands of followers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars through a direct mail campaign.

After his sentencing, Duke denied swindling his supporters.

Prosecutors said Duke told supporters that he was in danger of losing his home and savings, but said he sold his home for a profit, held numerous investment accounts and gambled away much of his take at casinos in Mississippi, Las Vegas and the Bahamas.

Duke left the Klan in 1980 but continued to make enemies with his anti-Jewish, anti-black speeches and writings. In the past several years, he traveled and made speeches in Europe and the Middle East talking about "white survival."

Duke spent one term in the Louisiana House in the late 1980s. After that, he lost elections for the U.S. Senate in 1990 and governor in 1991. He ran third in the primary for a U.S. House seat from suburban New Orleans in 1999.

When he gets out of prison, Duke is prohibited by law from seeking office in Louisiana for 15 years because of his felony conviction.

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