Robert C. Lewis, former chairman of the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control board, was sentenced yesterday to six months in federal prison and fined $10,000 for his role in an scheme to trade a liquor license for a share of profits in a liquor store.
James E. Boardley, the former ABC staff director convicted along with Lewis of bribery and conspiracy charges last April, was sentenced to four months in prison and fined $5,000 for his role in the deal.
In handing down the sentences, Judge Charles R. Richey said he had taken into account the "adverse publicity" generated by the two-week trial and "the effect this may have on the public and on other civil servants." He did not elaborate.
After the sentencing, the U.S. Attorney's office issued a statement that said, "The U.S. Attorney's office was disappointed with the sentencing." It is extremely unusual for the U.S. attorney to comment publicly on sentences in criminal cases. A spokesman for the office declined to comment beyond the statement.
Lewis and Boardley could have received up to 20 years each and bar owner Tommy M. Motlagh could have been sentenced to five years in prison, according to an assistant U.S. attorney.
Motlagh, whose efforts to secure a liquor store lease in a Northeast Washington mall Lewis and Boardley acknowledged helping, was sentenced to six months in prison and fined $5,000 for his conviction of conspiracy.
Richey also ordered all three defendants to serve five years probation and donate 100 hours to public service.
"The court has bent over backwards trying to be lenient and fair," Richey said.
Responding to the sentence, Lewis told Richey: "I am truly sorry for what has happened. I have spent most of my life trying to help people. In this case I tried to help a friend but obviously went too far."
Lewis and Boardley were charged with agreeing to guarantee Motlagh a license to operate a proposed liquor store at Hechinger Mall in exchange for a share of the store's profits.
At trial, jurors heard tapes of secretly-recorded conversations between Lewis, Boardley and a Hechinger official who testified that he pretended, as part of a government investigation, to want a share of the liquor store deal.
In those conversations, Lewis and Boardley told the official they expected to have a 3 to 5 percent share in the store's profits and would use their power to guarantee Motlagh a license.
While acknowledging socializing with Motlagh while he had matters pending before the ABC board, Lewis and Boardley maintained it was out of friendship that they assisted him.