The doctor who killed a Canada Goose on or near the 17th green of Congressional Country Club last May has been temporarily suspended from the exclusive Bethesda club by its board of governors.
Dr. Sherman Thomas, who was fined $500 last month for violating federal hunting laws in the goose slaying, made a brief appearance before the board of governors Wednesday night, according to sources, and was informed of his temporary suspension yesterday.
"We took what we considered to be appropriate action," said Dr. Karl Jonas, one of 16 country club board members who interrogated the 66-year-old physician. "We consider the matter closed. He was not expelled. Dr. Thomas has certainly been victimized adequately by the spate of publicity. He's been humiliated and embarrassed and so has his family."
Jonas and other board members would not reveal the term of the suspension. Dr. Thomas was unavailable for comment yesterday. Disciplinary action by the board could have resulted in Thomas' expulsion from the club, where he has been a member for 30 years.
"We felt that (expulsion) would have been inappropriate," said Jonas. "This is merely a misdemeanor." Added another board member: "Suffice it to say that the meeting was amicable. We do hope we have seen the last of the goose incident."
The "incident," as it is referred to by tight-lipped club members, happened on May 3 when Thomas' foursome approached the 17th green of the sloping links frequented by former president Gerald Ford, House Speaker Thomas (Tip) O'Neill and a gaggle of congressmen and senators.
According to Thomas, the goose was mortally wounded by his approach shot and he ended the bird's suffering with his putter. Thomas -- an experienced hunter also told the board of governors that he decapitated the goose.
He then tossed the head into a pond and brought the carcass back to his golf cart, sources said.
But several other golfers who witnessed the incident said they saw the doctor "thrashing widely" with his golf club.
In an earlier version of the incident, sources said the goose honked and spoiled a putt, which caused the doctor to fly into a rage, beating the animal to death.
"We never found the body," Assistant U.S. Attorney Kurl L. Schmoke said yesterday.
Federal prosecutors originally charged Thomas with "unlawfully killing a migratory bird" out of season, which carries a penalty of six months in jail and a $500 fine.
Thomas was also charged with unlawful possession of a goose protected by the Migratory Bird Act.
But a plea bargain arranged by Thomas' attorneys reduced the charges to one hunting citation. Thomas paid the $500 fine in Baltimore last month and was not required to enter a formal plea.
Yesterday, the board of governors said it had deferred any disciplinary action until the resolution of the criminal charges.
"I didn't think they would expel him," Assistant U.S. Attorney Schmoke said yesterday. "By the time of the trial, a lot of the emotion had dissipated. The feeling among the witnesses, who were club members, was, 'What can we do to get rid of this thing?'"