Updated 7:58 p.m.
A judge in Washington today sentenced former Bush administration lawyer Scott Bloch to one month in prison for withholding information from congressional investigators in an inquiry about deleting files from government computers.
Bloch pleaded guilty in April 2010 in Washington's federal district court to the misdemeanor charge of contempt of Congress. His sentencing had been on hold for nearly a year as the lawyers and judge in the case debated whether the charge carries a mandatory-minimum jail sentence.
This afternoon in court, Bloch’s attorney, Winston & Strawn partner William Sullivan Jr., urged Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson to sentence Bloch to a year of probation, a $2,000 fine and 100 hours of community service. Robinson earlier ruled that the charge is not probation-eligible.
Sullivan said several times today that Bloch had a “subjective understanding” he could receive probation for the rarely used criminal offense. Prosecutors did not charge Bloch with more serious crimes such as perjury, obstruction and false statements, Sullivan said. Bloch, his lawyer said, has shown remorse for his mistake. “We’re all guilty of mistakes,” Sullivan said.
Bloch praised Robinson and her staff for the work they performed since April. He also thanked his “lord and savior Jesus Christ.” Bloch said he believes “that good will come out of this case.”
Robinson ordered Bloch to surrender voluntarily to the Bureau of Prisons. Sullivan announced in court he is preparing to file court papers asking Robinson to stay the execution of the sentence pending an appeal.
"At literally every stage of this unnecessarily protracted matter, more and more evidence is adduced that reinforces the fact that my client had every reason to believe, and did believe, that the contempt of Congress statute was probation-eligible, and today's hearing was no exception," Sullivan said in a statement tonight. "We are eager to pursue the appellate process."