A federal judge in New York yesterday sentenced former REA Express Co. president Tom Kole to two years in jail and a $5,000 fine for embezzling $100,000 from the now bankrupt firm, and in the process called Kole "a common thief."

Kole, 47, had previously pleaded guilty to the government's charges that he conspired to embezzle the money from REA. He also received a four-year suspended sentence and probation on another charge of making false statements to a bank in an attempt to get a loan extended.

U.S. District Court Judge Charles Brieant said Kole could pay the fine in installments, and ordered him to cooperate with the trustees working on REA's bankruptcy.

Before sentencing, Kole gave a 15-minute speech saying that he had been ill-equipped to deal with the problems of a large corporation and that much of the money had gone to pay off federal agency employes. He further stated that he had cooperated with the U.S. Attorney by giving him the names of two officials at the Interstate Commerce Commission who had accepted bribes.

But Judge Brieant remarked that the two ICC officials were protected by a statute of limitations on the alleged bribes, and added that he believed that most of the money went to Kole himself.

"This crime has a vicious aspect," Judge Brieant said to Kole, "and although the record is murky, what was stolen was stolen for your own benefit."