An Oct. 23 article misstated the sentence recommended by federal prosecutors and the probationary period imposed by the judge in the fraud case of former District official Saamir "Sam" Kaiser. The government asked U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle to jail Kaiser for three years; she sentenced him to 4 1/2 years in prison and ordered two three-year terms of supervisory release to run concurrently. (Published 10/25/02)

Saamir "Sam" Kaiser, who tricked top District officials and members of Congress into believing that he was a lawyer and then embezzled city money for personal luxuries, was sentenced yesterday to 4 1/2 years in federal prison and ordered to repay $514,000.

In a separate civil case, Kaiser, 38, agreed to pay an additional $150,000 in punitive damages to the District for his actions.

U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle tacked on a six-year supervised probation, during which restitution will be taken from whatever income he earns at the time. Kaiser is destitute, so Huvelle imposed no fine for the federal mail fraud charge or the District fraud charge.

Huvelle said she exceeded the government's request of three years' probation because of what she called the seriousness of the crimes and Kaiser's history of misrepresentation. She said not all of his fraudulent activities were included in the criminal case before the court, such as working as a lawyer for a D.C. law firm without the law degree he claimed to have. He was fired from that firm in 1991.

Information about his firing never reached his patrons in city government, including Daniel A. Rezneck, who was general counsel to the D.C. financial control board, and D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi.

Kaiser's re{acute}sume{acute} inflated his achievements and included outright fabrications. Once in his job with Gandhi, he secretly added his name to the list of officials authorized to write checks on a special bank account.

In November 2001, internal auditors discovered that his credentials -- including a law degree from Cambridge University in England -- were false, and he was forced to resign his $122,000-a-year job. City officials initially did not pursue criminal charges or contradict Kaiser when he told co-workers that he was resigning to care for his father overseas.

After the fraud was reported in The Washington Post, District and federal investigators entered the case and discovered that he had spent $248,000 in city money to help pay for a $48,000 Mercedes-Benz, an $8,000 honeymoon and a wedding party, among other things.

He and his wife lived in England for the first part of 2002. He voluntarily returned to the United States in May to face charges, said Kaiser's attorney, Plato Cacheris.

Kaiser calmly told Huvelle that he would repay the city and apologized to family, friends, co-workers and taxpayers.

"I misunderstood the consequences of living a false life," he said. "It can hurt those closest to one, destroy one's reputation and put one in compromising situations. In my case, all three scenarios unfolded. . . . I extend my deepest apologies to my former bosses, Dr. Natwar Gandhi, and especially Daniel Rezneck, two of the most honorable people I have ever had the distinction to meet, whose trust I violated."

The restitution includes the embezzled funds and $266,000 in District salary he collected from 1998 through 2001 -- the period in which he was fraudulently employed as a licensed lawyer.

Kaiser served on the legal staff of the D.C. financial control board and later as general counsel to Gandhi. At both agencies, he was a liaison between city finance officials and key aides on D.C. oversight committees in Congress.

In a document recently filed with the court, Kaiser said he needed the money to cover debts related to his divorce and his remarriage, among other things.

But during the hearing, Huvelle dismissed that explanation as specious, pointing out that she could not sympathize with his "financial problems" when he was using the money to buy a Mercedes-Benz and pay $3,500 a month to rent an apartment.

Saamir Kaiser is sworn in at an earlier hearing. He was sentenced yesterday for lying to D.C. officials about his legal credentials and for stealing. Behind him is his attorney, Plato Cacheris. The federal judge is Ellen Segal Huvelle.Kaiser, who lied about having a law degree, worked in high-level legal positions for the D.C. financial control board and the chief financial officer.