Oliver North on Capitol Hill in 1986. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

July 5, 1989 On this day, a federal judge sentenced Oliver North for attempting to cover up the Iran-contra arms-for-hostages scandal when he was part of the National Security Council under President Ronald Reagan. The case dates to November 1986, when North allegedly, as The Washington Post wrote in 1989, “helped create false and misleading chronologies about the Reagan administration’s secret arms sales to Iran,” the proceeds of which went to fund contra guerrillas fighting the communist government in Nicaragua. North also allegedly altered and destroyed NSC records about his efforts to raise money and munitions for contra guerrillas in violation of a federal ban on the use of U.S. funds to do so, and accepted a security system for his Great Falls, Va., home that was paid for out of Swiss bank accounts set up to hold the profits from the arms deals with Iran. North was convicted of obstructing Congress, altering and destroying government documents, and taking an illegal gratuity. Although U.S. District Judge Gerhard A. Gesell told North at his sentencing, “I believe you knew this was morally wrong,” he gave North a three-year suspended prison term, two years’ probation and a fine of $150,000. The conviction was later vacated, and he went on to run unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in Virginia, write several books and serve as a TV news commentator. In May, the National Rifle Association said he would be its new president.

Annys Shin