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Tough sentence for Espy's top aide upheld

By Terry Frieden/CNN

January 26, 1999
Web posted at: 7:36 p.m. EDT (1936 GMT)

WASHINGTON (January 26) -- A federal court Tuesday rejected an appeal by a top aide to former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy challenging the aide's conviction and harsh sentence for three counts of lying under oath.

The sentence of former Agriculture chief of staff Ronald Blackley received wide public notice because of comments by the judge that he was attempting to "send a message" to all public officials about lying in a legal proceeding.

U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth, in announcing the relatively severe sentence for Blackley last year declared, "Providing a false statement under oath is a serious offense."

The judge's admonition came during the investigation of President Bill Clinton's testimony in the Monica Lewinsky case.

Blackley was found guilty of three counts of making false statements to hide payments from industries under Agriculture Department regulation. Rather than probation recommended in sentencing guidelines, Judge Lamberth ordered Blackley to serve two years in jail.

A U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled it was a proper use of the lower court judge's discretion.

The case was brought by Independent Counsel Donald Smaltz who investigated Espy and his associates for allegations of accepting gifts from firms regulated by the Agriculture Department.

A Washington jury acquitted Espy on all charges in December.


RELATED STORIES

Espy trial 'a travesty,' some jurors say (12-05-98)

Espy: Independent counsel law needs 'substantial' reform (12-04-98)

Espy trial goes to jury (12-1-98)

Judge throws out 8 1/2 counts against Espy (11-24-98)

Lobbyist says he was pressured to testify against Espy (10-31-98)

Espy called ethics rules 'junk' (10-6-98)

Espy trial starts Thursday (9-30-98)

Espy pleads not guilty (9-10-97)


RELATED SITES

Department of Agriculture Web site

Tyson Foods Web site



MORE STORIES:

Tuesday, January 26, 1999

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