Whistleblower groups and some former employees of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel want more than probation for Scott Bloch, a former head of the office who is scheduled to be sentenced Friday after a long-running criminal investigation.
In a six-page letter to U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson, lawyers for the whistleblower groups and former employees describe Bloch’s stormy tenure from 2004 to 2008. They note allegations that Bloch discriminated against gay and lesbian employees, that he retaliated against employees who tried to draw attention to his actions, and that he interfered with federal investigators when he hired “Geeks on Call” to wipe out computer files.
As the independent U.S. special counsel, Bloch was one of the federal government’s top lawyers for investigating waste, fraud and abuse, and for protecting whistleblowers.
In April, Bloch pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of withholding information from Congress, and he’ll be sentenced by Robinson. He faces up to six months in prison, but this month, lawyers for the U.S. Justice Department said they would not oppose probation.
Though it does not call explicitly for prison time, the letter on behalf of whistleblowers says probation wouldn’t be strong enough. “On behalf of the victims of Mr. Bloch’s unlawful conduct, we urge the Court to award a sentence that appropriately reflects the severe, long-lasting, and broad impact of his actions,” reads the letter (PDF).
Debra Katz and Avi Kumin of Katz, Marshall & Banks in Washington wrote the whistleblowers’ letter on behalf of their clients, who include: an unspecified number of former Office of Special Counsel employees, the Government Accountability Project, and the Project on Government Oversight.
Bloch is now an employment lawyer at Washington’s Tarone & McLaughlin. A message left today with his attorney, Winston & Strawn partner William Sullivan Jr., was not immediately returned.
UPDATE (7/20): Among the groups mentioned in the letter is the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates on behalf of gays and lesbians, but Katz and Kumin do not represent the organization with regard to Bloch's criminal sentencing, Kumin clarified Tuesday.
Mike Scarcella contributed to this post.