Scott Bloch, the former Bush administration official who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor contempt of Congress, was sentenced to one month in prison by a D.C. federal court today. The former head of the Office of Special Counsel, Bloch had pleaded guilty in connection with his use of ‘Geeks On Call’ to scrub his government computer while he was under investigation by Congress.
In addition to the prison time, Bloch was sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation and 200 hours community service. An attorney for Bloch indicated that he would be filing a motion for a stay of the decision pending appeal.
Before the sentence came down, Bloch addressed the court, thanked the court and his family, and said he looked forward to being able to “do some good” for the community.
“I believe that good will come out of this and I believe it already has,” Bloch said as his stood before the judge. “I thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ.”
U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson lead the sentencing hearing and got into somewhat contentious exchanges with both Bloch’s lawyer, William Sullivan Jr., and a federal prosecutor.
Bloch had been trying to get a judge to reconsider his guilty plea, arguing that he didn’t know he’d have to spend a minimum of a month behind bars. As TPM has reported, federal prosecutors and Bloch’s legal team had reached a deal that would have kept Bloch out of prison. But in February, Robinson ruled that by statute he would have to serve at least a month. On Tuesday, the same judge denied Bloch’s motion to reconsider his guilty plea, setting up the sentencing.
One particular point of disagreement was over whether the government had agreed to “advocate” for a probation sentence for Bloch. Both the government and Bloch’s lawyer contended that that’s what they meant when they entered into a plea agreement, but Robinson indicated there was not any language to suggest that was the case — only that the government agreed “not to oppose” a request for probation.
Bloch’s lawyer argued that the agreement indicated the government would support a sentence on the low end of the sentencing guidelines, as low as “zero” months.
“If zero isn’t probation, I don’t know what is,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan cited the “mountain of selfless good works” that he said Bloch had accrued over his lifetime and indicated that he instilled moral values on his children, including one who serves at a U.S. Marine.
“He made a mistake,” Sullivan said. “In the age of Google, he is forever tagged with this event. If you Google his name, this case dominates the results.”
Read TPM’s past coverage of the Bloch case here.
Additional reporting by Eric Lach.