U.S. District Court Judge Oliver Gasch yesterday dismissed as "generalizations" criticism of his record of sentencing persons convicted in the General Services Administration scandals to probation rather than jail.
Gasch, obviously perturbed by the criticism leveled at him by U.S. Attorney Earl J. Silbert, who had called two of the sentencings "totally inadequate," then imposed another probationary sentence on another individual who pleaded guilty in connection with the GSA scandal.
"I am much more impressed by specifics rather than generalizations," Gasch said of the criticism.
Gasch was reacting to Silbert's statement that his sentencings in two cases involving GSA contractors who had admitted stealing $1.2 million from the agency had helped foster the impression that crime "does, indeed, pay." Gasch had imposed $5,000 in fines, probation, and 200 hours of community service on both contractors.
Gasch said he would postpone sentencing Robert C. Wear, who admitted receiving $310,000 from GSA for contracting work never done and splitting it with GSA employes.
"I'm going to let you tell me in dollars and cents just what this man is supposed to have gotten from the U.S. government," Gasch said sharply to Assistant U.S. Attorney William S. Block. "Do I make myself clear?"
He then sentenced a second defendant, Robert M. Bryant, to three years probation, to be served in Florida where he now lives, and ordered him to pay a $3,000 fine.
Bryant had admitted receiving some $5,000 in bribes from GSA contractors when he was employed in the GSA building managers' offices in return for writing fraudulent contracts.
"To get and keep a job [at GSA] you were expected to ignore day-to-day fraudulent transactions," Bryant told the court. "You were expected to participate [in the fraud] in order to get [good] assignments," he said.
Block told Gasch that Bryant, 31, was the first to cooperate in the GSA investigations. However, he reiterated the need, expressed in Silbert's statement, to impose jail terms as a deterrent to more corruption at GSA.
Bryant's lawyer, Lawrence H. Schwartz, said Bryant, who is divorced and remarried, has custody of his children. He said Bryant has been "stigmatized" and needs to support his children.