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Prosecutors Urge Prison Term for North

June 20, 1989|ROBERT L. JACKSON | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Government prosecutors declared Monday that former White House aide Oliver L. North "has not indicated one iota of remorse" and should go to prison for his conviction on three felony charges in the Iran-Contra scandal.

In legal papers filed with U.S. District Judge Gerhard A. Gesell four days before North is scheduled to be sentenced, prosecutors charged that North sees himself "as being above the law and beyond reproach" and, in making public appearances around the country, "continues to profit from his notoriety."

Convicted on three of nine felony counts last month, the retired Marine lieutenant colonel could receive up to 10 years in prison and $750,000 in fines.

Brendan V. Sullivan Jr., North's defense attorney, declined comment on the prosecutors' statement. However, Sullivan has been submitting material to the court under seal to argue leniency for North and will make a public statement before Gesell imposes sentence.

Notice of Appeal

Sullivan also has served notice that he is appealing North's conviction.

In their sentencing memorandum, independent counsel Lawrence E. Walsh and three associates who tried the 12-week case told Gesell that "the most striking thing about North's posture on the eve of sentencing is his insistence that he has done nothing wrong."

They cited North's post-trial claim that the jury's verdict represented "a partial vindication" of his conduct, and that he will "continue the fight" until he is exonerated.

In the meantime, the prosecutors said, "North's lack of remorse is particularly troubling in view of the fact that he continues to travel throughout the country, like a politician on the stump, giving speeches and discoursing on his defiance of Congress."

North's appearances have commanded an average fee of $25,000 each. His associates say that the proceeds, together with contributions toward a legal defense fund, are being used to defray legal bills estimated at $3 million.

Declaring that an unspecified "term of incarceration is appropriate and necessary," the prosecution's statement urged Gesell to "consider the seriousness of North's abuse of the public trust, the need for deterrence, North's failure to accept personal responsibility for his actions, his lack of remorse and his perjury on the witness stand."

Although North was charged with perjury, he was not convicted of that charge. He was found guilty of altering and destroying top-secret documents, helping to mislead Congress and illegally accepting the gift of a $13,800 home security system.

But the prosecution contended that "with supreme faith in his ability to deceive, North took the witness stand and perjured himself" with a false story claiming that he had a cash box at home and had not pocketed any Contra cash funds.

North "apparently sees nothing wrong with alteration and destruction of official national security records," the prosecutors added, describing such crimes as "designed to protect himself and his associates, not the national security."

Stressing the deterrent effect of a prison term, the government's statement said:

"After a nonpolitical trial and a nonpolitical verdict, the court in its sentence should alert all government officials that such activities are indeed unlawful and that, if officials engaging in such conduct are caught and convicted, the punishment will be severe." North was "not a scapegoat," the statement concluded, and he "cannot simply rely on real or imagined authorization of illegal conduct and expect to escape responsibility."

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