A headline in the Jan. 4 Metro section incorrectly used the term "break-in" in connection with the federal court sentencing of Mark U. Price. Price pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unauthorized entry into offices at the U.S. Department of Education, where he had worked. He did not plead guilty to a "break-in." The accompanying article stated that Price's fitness to stand trial had been considered, but does not state how the issue was resolved. The judge found Price fit and able to assist in his defense. The article also incorrectly described an unsworn statement in the case as an "affidavit." The article further incorrectly stated that Price's religious discrimination complaint against the Education Department had been dismissed, when in fact it was resolved through a settlement in which the department, while not admitting any discrimination, granted Price a job transfer he had requested.
Mark U. Price, a former attorney for the U.S. Department of Education who pleaded guilty to entering department offices after he was fired and to damaging investigative records about his case, was placed on probation for three years yesterday by a federal judge.
As part of a plea bargain in which prosecutors dropped felony charges of burglary and of stealing and destroying government records, Price agreed to continue mental health therapy and to ask the Utah bar to place him on disability status.
The brief sentencing by U.S. District Judge Thomas A. Flannery culminated a bizarre three-year battle between Price, 36, of Alexandria and his former superiors at the Education Appeal Board. The panel hears complaints by states and other recipients of federal education aid regarding audit reports requiring them to return misspent funds.
The unlawful entry took place on a Saturday in April 1984, two months after Price was fired as attorney-adviser to the board after repeated clashes with its chairman, David S. Pollen, and other board members.
Pollen and the board members accused Price of being erratic and partisan. In turn, he filed a discrimination complaint, later dismissed, accusing Pollen of taking action against him because he is a Mormon.
In an interview yesterday, Pollen said Price forged his name on an anti-Mormon letter sent in early 1984 to a brother-in-law of then-Education Secretary T.H. Bell, who is an active member of the Mormon church. Pollen said the letter was turned over to the Education Department's inspector general, whose office contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to an FBI affidavit filed in the case, investigative files dealing with the letter and other activities by Price were stolen from the inspector general's office in a weekend burglary in early March 1984.
Late the following month, the affidavit says, Price was seen in an Education Department office tearing up documents and throwing them into a trash can. After the documents were retrieved and pieced together, Special Agent John H. Taylor of the inspector general's office identified them as having come from the stolen investigative file and the FBI found Price's fingerprints on them, the affidavit said.
After Price was indicted in October 1984, Dr. Glenn Miller, a court-appointed psychiatrist, said Price was unfit to stand trial, but Price maintained that he could stand trial. The plea bargain was entered in October.
Pollen said yesterday that Price has continued to write letters to members of Congress and newspapers accusing him of bias and corruption.