Scott Bloch, the former head of the Office of the Special Counsel, wants to abandon his guilty plea following a judge's ruling last week that the charge of lying to Congress carries a one-month mandatory minimum jail sentence.
Bloch's lawyers at Winston & Strawn had worked out a deal with prosecutors in Washington in which Bloch, the lead government whistleblower protector in the second Bush administration, would receive a sentence of probation, a fine and community service. Bloch pleaded guilty to contempt of Congress last April.
Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson last week ruled that the rarely charged crime carries a one-month mandatory minimum sentence. An attorney for Bloch, Winston partner William Sullivan Jr., and Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Leon argued together that Robinson had discretion to sentence Bloch to probation.
Earlier this week, Leon filed court papers asking Robinson to reconsider her ruling. Prosecutors this evening withdrew the request. In today’s filing [.pdf], prosecutors announced Bloch’s lawyers plan to file a motion to withdraw his guilty plea. There is no guarantee Robinson will grant the motion.
Prosecutors said Bloch’s lawyers want to withdraw the guilty plea on the ground that Robinson failed during the plea colloquy to tell Bloch that the charge carries a mandatory minimum jail penalty.
“The government believes that the defendant’s position is well-founded, and will not oppose his motion to withdraw his plea,” Leon said in the court papers filed today.
Sullivan was not immediately reached for comment. Earlier this week, Robinson set Bloch’s sentencing for March 10.