Michael K. Deaver, once one of President Reagan's closest aides, was given a suspended three-year sentence Friday and fined $100,000 for lying under oath about his lobbying activities after he left the White House.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, saying he doubted a prison term would deter others from committing what he called "a crime of circumstance and opportunity," also ordered Deaver to perform 1,500 hours of community service.In addition, the judge placed Deaver on three-years' probation, during which the former presidential aide is barred from lobbying the federal government for profit.
Outside the courthouse, Deaver told reporters, "It was a very fair sentence, if I had been guilty." He said he would appeal.
Deaver, with his wife, Carolyn, and daughter, Amanda, at his side, told reporters he was relieved that, for the first time in 21/2 years "I know what's going to happen to me - and for that I'm grateful."
Reagan, campaigning in Florida for Republican presidential nominee George Bush, told reporters: "I'm glad it's over. I have always believed - and I still believe - that he didn't do anything wrong. Mike Deaver has been our friend for more than 20 years and has served us and his country with uncommon dedication."
Deaver, 50, a recovering alcoholic, said he has proposed to the court that he perform the community service requirement by counseling alcoholics.
Although Jackson said he did not doubt that Deaver had deliberately given false answers to questions about his lobbying, the judge said imprisonment would not be the correct way to rehabilitate Deaver.
Jackson, referring to Deaver's fight against alcoholism, said that "such rehabilitation as is needed, as he well knows, must come from within himself."
In pleading for leniency, Deaver, once Reagan's deputy chief of staff, said that the investigation "has taken a terrible toll on me and my family and my friends and my business."
But he told the judge, "I can take comfort in the fact that I have had the support of friends and family in coming to grips with the worst demon that I faced, and that was alcoholism."
Talking to reporters later, Deaver said that alcoholism "is a disease that affects many parts of your body and your emotions and certainly your judgment. To this day, I don't recall making some of those phone calls when I was in the hospital, sedated."
In explaining the sentence, however, Jackson dismissed a defense argument that Deaver's memory was clouded by alcohol when he told a House subcommittee and a grand jury he couldn't recall contacting government officials for high-paying clients.
"I am satisfied there is no physiological explanation and excuse for the incorrect answers he gave," Jackson said. "Mr. Deaver remains as accountable as anyone, afflicted or not, for having testified untruthfully."
But the judge said Deaver's "motives were not entirely mercenary."
Deaver lied about his lobbying because "he knew his new occupation was not worthy of him, even if lawful, and that he testified as he did in part to avoid admitting that truth to himself," Jackson said.
Jackson said Deaver's alcoholism "does not excuse, but it does help to explain," the lapses of judgment he showed when he gave false testimony.
Deaver was convicted of three counts of lying when questioned about whether his contacting former Reagan administration colleagues on behalf of his corporate clients was a violation of federal ethics laws.
Noting that Deaver had "loyally, ably and honorably served the president," Jackson said Deaver had not been convicted of influence peddling.
That appeared to be a rebuff to independent counsel Whitney North Seymour Jr., who had urged a prison term.