Libby commutation an issue at sentencing

July 13, 2007 at 8:31 PM
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SAN FRANCISCO, July 13 (UPI) -- A presidential commutation in the CIA leak case has become an issue at the sentencing of a San Francisco lawyer who leaked grand jury transcripts.

Troy Ellerman pleaded guilty to leaking grand jury testimony to the San Francisco Chronicle during its coverage of an investigation into steroid use by professional athletes. During a sentencing hearing Thursday, Ellerman's lawyer brought up President George W. Bush's decision to commute a 30-month prison term for former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, The Chronicle reported.

Bush said the prison term was excessive.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White rejected the suggestion of leniency and sentenced Ellerman to 30 months.

"Under the president's reasoning, any white-collar defendant should receive no jail time, regardless of the reprehensibility of the crime," said White -- who was appointed to the bench by Bush.

Libby resigned as chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney when he was indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice charges in connection with the investigation into the disclosure of the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

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