Today was supposed to be Scott Bloch’s day in court and, given that he’d reached a deal with prosecutors and pled guilty to misdemeanor contempt of Congress, the outcome had seemed relatively certain — he wasn’t headed to prison. But a judge had other plans.
Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson of Washington’s federal trial court said in a ruling late Wednesday that Bloch, the former head of the Office of Special Counsel, must spend at least one month behind bars.
Robinson found that “Congress expressly provided for a mandatory minimum sentence of one month, evidencing its intention to do so; that the language by which it did so is unambiguous; and that no authority permits the court to disregard the provision, or to interpret it other than in accordance with its plain meaning.”
The ruling, first reported by Mike Scarcella in the National Law Journal, means that Bloch could be taken into federal custody following his rescheduled hearing on Monday.
Bloch pled guilty last spring to misdemeanor contempt of Congress for calling in Geeks on Call to wipe his government hard drive clean during the course of a probe into his alleged retaliation against employees.
Both Bloch’s defense team and the federal government supported a plea deal which would have meant probation for that former Bush administration official, but several employees wrote to the court to ask the judge to impose a harsher penalty on Bloch.
Bloch told TPM in an interview last week that he felt vindicated by a Office of Special Counsel report on violations of the law during the Bush administration, but referred all questions about his sentencing to his lawyer.