WASHINGTON, D.C., July 31 -- The president of a heritage association headquartered in the nation's capital has alleged that a D.C. lawyer concocted an extortion plot to cover up an illegal political fund that was used to restore an Arlington National Ceme tery monument.

John Edward Hurley, chairman and president of the Confederate Memorial Association, said that attorney Patrick Hand of Crowley, Hoge & Fein circulated a letter to the CMA's board of trustees promising that their names would be r emoved as defendants from a lawsuit he filed against them if they would send their proxies to his client.

"Never before in the history of corporate law has such a blatant extortion even been attempted," Hurley said, noting that Hand's letter prom ised to indemnify trustees against any monetary relief Hand was seeking in his civil lawsuit.

Hurley said that ten years of litigation had caused the city's oldest Civil War museum to close its doors. He said that the CMA board had given up its a t tempt to operate the historic Confederate Memorial Hall when the court upheld a bogus legal bill submitted to the court. It included expenses for restoring the Confederate monument in Arlington National Cemetery, which had nothing to do with the litigati on.

D.C. Superior Court Judge John H. Bayly Jr. jailed Hurley for contempt when he refused to pay what Hurley termed "fraudulent" expenses. However, he said, $21,879.46 was returned to him without explanation.

But even more astounding to Hurley was the judge's decision to quash a subpoena for the monument account in spite of the $22,000 "mistake." Hurley claims that the account includes major political contributions from co mputer contractors who do business with both the Justice Department and the Army, which has jurisdiction over the cemetery.

Hurley said that the complete package that Hand sent to the CMA board members is posted on the organization's Internet Website, www.confederate.org.

"With Americans witnessing in the daily public media the fabric of constitutional government come unraveled, our Website can give an object lesson on why it is happ ening," Hurley said.