Accepting a prosecutor's sympathetic recommendation, an Arlington judge cleared the way yesterday for dismissal of charges against a Philadelphia congressman accused of participating in a cocktail lounge brawl last January following the congressional swearing-in ceremonies.
Originally charged with two counts of assault and battery, Rep. Michael O. (Ozzie) Myers, a 35-year-old former longshoreman who is a second term Democrat, was permitted to plead no contest to one charge of disorderly conduct. Either offense would carry a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
General District Judge Richard W. Corman accepted a recommendation from Arlington Commonwealth's Attorney William S. Burroughs that sentencing be delayed for six months and that charges be dropped unless Myers is rearrested on other charges.
As Myers, flanked by his attorney, Plato Cacheris, stood before the judge, Burroughs said: "As your honor is no doubt aware, Mr. Myers is a member of Congress.
"We want to insure that what was done was one in an evenhanded manner and that Mr. Myers was treated no better and no worse . . . than other first offenders," Burroughs said in recommending that the judge accept Myers' no contest plea to disorderly conduct.
At a press conference he called following yesterday's court hearing, Burroughs said it was unusual for him to make sentencing recommendations as he did in Myers' case.
"But it is somewhat unusual for a congressman to be before the court and be torn to pieces by the press in what is a relatively minor incident," Burroughs said. "I made the recommendation because of the sensationalism by the media."
Although Burroughs commended the Philadelphia press corps at his press conference for its handling of the story, he said later in an interview that his comments about sensationalism were directed at Philadelphia newspapers.
The prosecutor said one paper there carried a photograph of the congressman next to a picture of a gorilla beneath the headline: "Jekyll and Hyde?" "That's absolutely unbelievabe," Burroughs said.
Myers and his cousin, John L. Sullivan of New Jersey-who received the same sentence yesterday-were originally accused of punching and kicking cashier Kimberly Ervin, 19, and security guard Michael Loper, 22, as they were leaving a late-night party Jan. 16 at the Pentagon City Quality Inn.
Police said that Ervin and Loper, employes of the Skydome Lounge, asked Myers and a dozen of his friends who were drinking following congressional swearing-in ceremonies to lower their voices.
According to a police report, "a man who identified himself as Congressman Myers stated that because he was congressman he didn't have to abide by their rules" and later punched and kicked Ervin and Loper as he and Sullivan were leaving the bar.
Police said that during his arrest Sullivan "pulled his trousers and undershorts down" to his knees.
Following his court appearance yesterday, Myers repeated earlier denials of wrongdoing.
"There was no punching," he said as he left the Arlington Courthouse. "I'm not pleased with this [plea] because I thought it would all wash out in court. This whole thing was an unfortuante development."
"We were just doing a little partying," Myers said, "and in my opinion, there was nothing wrong. But here in Virginia people go to bed early on Monday night. These people try to play me up as a fighter because I once worked on the waterfront. I'm a gentle guy."
In an interview yesterday, cashier Ervin said that Myers had agreed to pay her medical bills but declined to say how much the bills were or whether the congressman or his cousin apologized to her.
"I feel I've done my part and the court has done theirs," she said. "But I want to know what the voters of Philadelphia say next year when he's up for reelection." CAPTION: Picture 1, KIMBERLY ERVIN . . . "I've done my part"; Picture 2, MICHAEL O. MYERS . . . "there was nothing wrong"