A federal judge here yesterday continued meeting out maximum or near maximum sentences to four more members of the Church of Scientology who conspired to break into government offices and obstruct justice.
U.S. District Judge Charles R. Richey said he was imposing the jail sentences because the church members' crimes were "heinous" and "utterly inexcusable." He ordered the defendants who were sentenced yesterday to begin serving their terms immediately, instead of leaving them free while their appeals were pending.
Church spokesmen maintain that the jail sentences are "vicious." U.S. Atorney Carl S. Rauh said yesterday, however, that he viewed the sentences as "sound, appropriate and just."
Mitchell Hermann, who was in charge of the group's plans to break into government offices to steal documents and to plant spies in the government work force, was sentenced to four years in prison and fined $10,000. Hermann conceded yesterday that what he did was wrong and illegal.
Cindy Raymond, the church's national secretary, who was described by prosecutors as the chief coordinator of a plot to obstruct a grand jury probe of the church, was sentenced to five years in prison and fined $10,000.
Gerald Bennett Wolfe, who lied to a grand jury investigating the break-ins and who helped steal government documents, also was sentenced to five years in prison and fined $10,000.
Sharon Thomas, who was found guilty of a misdemeanor theft charge growing out of her work as a Scientology spy while working as a Justice Department secretary, was sentenced to six months in jail, fined $1,000, placed on probation for five years, and ordered to participate in a mandatory community service program.
The four sentenced yesterday are the last of nine Scientology leaders and members found guilty of a massive criminal plot to plant spies in government offices, "bug" at least one government meeting and obstruct justice. g
On Thursday Judge Richey sentenced five of the highest leaders of the church to prison and imposed fines for their roles in the conspiracy.
During yesterday's sentencings, the defendants again maintained they committed criminal acts only because they thought the government was harassing their church. Once again, government prosecutors denied any such harassment.
Two other church members are charged in connection with the conspiracy. They are based in England and awaiting extradition.