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Prosecutor Misleads Court -- Again
Prosecutor misconduct excused for being "inadvertent," then he does it again
Retired Air Force officer convicted of perjury under questionable circumstances
I lost everything I owned in a house fire in Portland, Oregon, in July, 1993, shortly after I retired from 28 years as an Air Force Officer.
In 1994, Daniel S. Linhardt, an Assistant United States Attorney in Sacramento, California investigated my brother for mail fraud in connection for a business he ran in Portland. In December 1995, after I had moved to Texas, I was subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury in Sacramento. Linhardt was trying to establish a tie between the house fire and a statement my brother had made to him about documents from his business. In March 1996, I clearly testified to the grand jury that I did not know if any documents from my brother's business were in the house at the time of the fire. The house was rented by my brother's business, and I was living there temporarily while completing the requirements for my Master of Science degree. I also testified that I abandoned most of the items in a middle bedroom because they were "not recognizable, burnt." I was indicted for perjury for this statement.
At my trial in January, 1997, Linhardt told the jury in his closing arguments that I had lied in my trial testimony by saying that records from my brother's business were in the attic of the house and were destroyed by the fire, therefore the jury could convict me on that testimony alone: if I lied to them, I probably lied to the grand jury. I was convicted, lost the direct appeal, and spent five months at a Federal prison camp. I am now in home confinement for five months, part of three years of supervised release. I am a convicted felon and I can't vote or own a gun for the rest of my life.
Linhardt tried to use the same testimony to increase my sentence. At the sentencing hearing, however, Linhardt admitted that he was "wrong" and that I did not say anything in my trial testimony about any records being destroyed in the attic. I filed a complaint with the Office of Professional Responsibility and they replied that they conducted an inquiry and found that Linhardt did, in fact, misstate my trial testimony in closing arguments, but it was excusable because it was a "mistake."
In June 1999, while serving time at the prison camp, I filed a motion for habeas corpus attacking my conviction.
On October 1, 1999, Linhardt answered my motion saying that my grounds were without merit--because I lied in my trial testimony by saying that records from my brother's business were in the attic and were destroyed in the fire!
Thomas M. Sanders
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