Thompson Says He Was Unaware Of Top Advisers Criminal Past

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican Fred Thompson says he was unaware of the criminal past of an adviser to his presidential campaign, but that he wouldn't "throw my friend under the bus" for decades-old indiscretions.

Thompson has flown around the country in a private jet borrowed from businessman Philip Martin, a co-chairman of Thompson's campaign who also has a criminal record for drug dealing, The Washington Post reported today.

Martin pleaded guilty to the sale of 11 pounds of marijuana in 1979, but the court withheld judgment pending completion of his probation. In 1983, he was charged with violating probation and multiple counts of bookmaking, cocaine trafficking and conspiracy.

He pleaded no contest to the cocaine-trafficking and conspiracy charges, and was continued on probation, the newspaper said.

Thompson said he learned about Martin's past yesterday, and understood that the crimes were committed when he was in his 20s and living in Florida, before Martin moved to Tennessee and the two became friends.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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