Former Bush administration lawyer Scott Bloch, sentenced to a month in prison for withholding information from a congressional committee, will remain free pending an appeal.
Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson of Washington's federal trial court said this evening in a ruling (PDF) that the one-month prison sentence is stayed. Bloch, who led the Office of the Special Counsel, pleaded guilty to the charge in April 2010 in Washington federal district court. He was sentenced March 30.
Bloch’s lawyers at Winston & Strawn asked Robinson to stay the imposition of the sentence pending review by a federal district judge into whether Robinson was wrong to deny Bloch’s request to withdraw his guilty plea.
The attorneys, including Winston partner William Sullivan Jr., said they are not challenging the sentence itself. Bloch’s attorneys said in court papers filed April 1 that they intend to argue that the plea agreement is unenforceable because Robinson failed to tell Bloch that the charge carries a one-month mandatory minimum prison term.
Bloch said when he pleaded guilty he had the subjective belief that the charge was probation-eligible. Robinson ruled earlier this year that Bloch knew he could receive up to a month or more in prison when he pleaded guilty. The judge refused to let Bloch start over.
Federal prosecutors did not oppose Bloch’s request that Robinson postpone the prison sentence during any appeal.