U.S. deputy marshal sentenced to four years for information leak

By associated press
Wednesday, October 28, 2009

CHICAGO -- A federal deputy marshal was sentenced Tuesday to four years in prison for leaking information about the government's star witness at Chicago's biggest organized-crime trial in decades.

John T. Ambrose, 42, was convicted in April of stealing government property and violating the secrecy of the Witness Security Program -- the network of bodyguards and safe houses used to protect witnesses in mob and terrorism cases.

U.S. District Judge John F. Grady said that the sentencing range under federal guidelines of 12 to 18 months was too low and that he wanted to send Ambrose to prison long enough to deter such leaks in the future.

It was the first breach of security in the 25-year history of the Witness Security Program, and officials said they think the program remains safe.

"This is an isolated case based on an isolated event," U.S. Marshal Kim Widup told reporters after the sentencing.

The information was that admitted hit man Nicholas Calabrese was in federal custody and being kept in a safe house in Chicago. Both sides say Ambrose leaked the information to a former Chicago police officer who had gone to prison himself in a corruption case decades ago.

The government said Ambrose admitted giving the information in the hope that he would be repaid with useful information in hunting a fugitive. Ambrose denied that and said he had merely boasted of landing the high-prestige assignment.

Ambrose remains on unpaid leave with the U.S. Marshals Service.

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