Former D.C. Superior Court Judge Robert H. Campbell, convicted of accepting an illegal gift from a Bladensburg construction firm while he was a member of the local bench, was sentenced yesterday to serve a three-month-to-two-year prison sentence.
Before he imposed the sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas A. Flannery told Campbell that the prosecution evidence against him during a lengthy criminal trial earlier this year revealed that "this was just one incident in a pattern of corruption going on for a number of years."
Campbell made a rambling, at times emotional statement to Flannery before he was sentenced, protesting his innocence and complaining that he had been hounded by federal agents and news reporters during the government's three-year investigation into his activities as a city prosecutor and then a judge.
Dabbing at his eyes with a folded white hankerchief, Campbell said in a halting voice, "Yes, I am ashamed to be here. I am embarrassed. Really, what the government has done has caused me to believe I wasn't born free. I am different. I don't live in America.
"A corrupt judge should be punished. I am not a corrupt judge," Campbell said.
"What is it that they want? I am not going to surrender. They may beat me, but I'm not going to give up," Campbell said as he stood alone in the well of the courtroom.
Flannery, however, told Campbell that the evidence in the case showed that he had "betrayed" the trust that had been placed in him to be fair and impartial to all persons who stood before him at Superior Court, where he served for six years until he resigned in 1978 because of a medical disability.
"It is essential that the integrity of the judicial branch he maintained," Flannery said. "If our citizens do not have confidence in the integrity of our judicial system, then our form of government could not continue to exist. $"The evidence in this case reveals that Judge Campbell betrayed that trust," Flannery said.
Campbell's lawyer, R. Kenneth Mundy, pleaded with Flannery to limit his sentencing decision to the fact that Campbell was only found guilty of allowing Excavation Construction Inc. [ECI] employes to move his household goods in 1975, a gift which the government estimated was worth $300.
But Flannery noted that the U.S. Surpreme Court has ruled that at the time of sentencing, a judge has broad discretion to consider a wide range of information presented to the court, including evidence related to charges on which Campbell was acquitted.
"Acquittal does not have the effect of proving the untruth of the evidence," Flannery said.
Prosecutor John P. Hume, urging Flannery to impose a prison term, said the evidence showed that Campbell "virtually sold his office" and traded his judicial influence for his personal benefit.
Flannery then sentenced Campbell to serve a minimum of three months and up to two years in prison. Flannery said Campbell could remain free on his personal bond pending an expected appeal of his conviction.
Yesterday's sentencing climaxed the government's formal case against Campbell, which began in August 1980 when a federal grand jury charged that Campbell had taken money and gifts from ECI, a heavy construction firm, and from its employes.
The indictment alleged conspiracy and bribery charges involving the former judge, the firm's general manager, Larry A. Campbell (no relation to Judge Campbell), and the firm itself. The charges covered an 11-year period from 1966, when Campbell was a prosecutor in the D.C. Corporation Counsel's office and later its chief law enforcement officer, up to 1977, while Campbell was on the Superior Court bench.
The prosecution's key witness against the former judge was Robert payne Jenkins, a former ECI official who testified that he made between 10 and 15 case payments to Campbell, usually in $100 bills, in exchange for the judge's lenient treatment of traffic tickets issued to the construction firm.
Flannery said yesterday that he is "convinced" the Jenkins lied during some of his testimony in order to protect the former judge, but Flannery did not elaborate.
After a seven-week trial, a jury last March acquitted Robert Campbell, Larry Campbell and ECI of all charges involving bribery, conspiracy and racketeering. All three were convicted, however, of the less serious charge of allowing ECI employes to move the judge's household belongings in August 1975 from one house to another.
Three weeks ago, Flannery acquitted Larry Campbell of that single conviction, ruling that despite the jury's verdict there was insufficient evidence to show that Larry Campbell had anything to do with the move of the former judge's household goods.
Yesterday, Flannery sentenced the corporation to pay the maximum $10,000 fine for giving the judge the illegal gratuity. The corporation is now being reorganized under federal bankruptcy laws.