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Obituaries

William A. Ingram, 77; Sent Mob Boss to Prison

June 01, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

William A. Ingram, 77, San Jose's first full-time judge and the man who sentenced Mafia chieftain Joseph Bonanno to prison, died Sunday at a Menlo Park rehabilitation clinic. The cause of death was not disclosed.

Ingram was appointed to the federal bench by President Ford in 1976. In San Jose, where Ingram served from 1983 to 1988, he ruled on new areas of intellectual property law, including a series of cases involving computer chip makers such as Intel.

In the 1987 copyright case involving Intel of Santa Clara and NEC Corp. of Japan, he issued a landmark ruling that the internal design of microchips is protected by U.S. copyright law. Intel had sued NEC, alleging that the Japanese company had illegally reproduced the micro-code of Intel's 8086 and 8088 chips widely used in IBM and IBM-compatible PCs.

After issuing the ruling, Ingram removed himself from the case after discovering he owned $80 worth of Intel stock as an officer of a private investment club.

While on the federal bench in San Jose, Ingram sentenced Bonanno to prison after a 1980 trial in which a jury convicted the 75-year-old organized crime boss of conspiring to obstruct a grand jury investigation into money laundering.

Until entering Ingram's courtroom, Bonanno had eluded conviction on federal charges despite many prior criminal investigations. Ingram handed him a five-year sentence, which he later reduced to one year. Bonanno died May 11 in Tucson at age 97.

Ingram was born in Jeffersonville, Ind., but grew up in the San Francisco area and attended UC Berkeley and Stanford University.

He served as a Marine during and after World War II before graduating from the University of Louisville law school. He worked as a deputy district attorney for Santa Clara County and for a San Jose law firm before he was appointed a municipal court judge for Palo Alto and Mountain View in 1969. Then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan elevated him to the Santa Clara Superior Court in 1971, where he served for five years until his appointment to the federal bench.

Passionate about Shakespeare, he was known to spout lines from his favorite plays, such as "Henry V," from the bench.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara; three daughters; and four grandchildren.

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