A senior FBI official will spend 18 months in prison for destroying an agency document about the fatal 1992 shootout at Ruby Ridge.
Ironically, E. Michael Kahoe, a 26-year FBI veteran, got the same prison term given in 1993 to Randy Weaver.
Weaver’s mountaintop cabin near Naples, Idaho, was the scene of an 11-day siege that left three people dead - prompting an extensive FBI investigation.
Kahoe, former chief of the FBI’s violent crimes section, destroyed a report criticizing the bureau’s role at Ruby Ridge. He was sentenced Friday in Washington, D.C., after earlier pleading guilty to obstruction of justice.
Kahoe admitted that his dishonesty had tarnished the image of the FBI.
“I will always be known as the agent who obstructed justice in the Ruby Ridge incident,” Kahoe said in court. “I must live every day of my life with the realization of what I have done.”
Federal prosecutor Robert Goldman said Kahoe was treated no differently than anyone else who obstructs justice.
“If this case is not an obstruction case, I don’t know what is,” Goldman said.
Four other senior FBI officials, including Deputy Director Larry Potts, will not be prosecuted for their roles in the Ruby Ridge cover-up.
The FBI sniper who killed Weaver’s wife presently faces state involuntary manslaughter charges in Boundary County.
Kahoe, now retired from the FBI, was sentenced by Judge Ricardo Urbina, who could have sent him to prison for two years. The judge also fined Kahoe $4,000 and ordered him to complete two years of probation after his release from federal prison.
In court, Kahoe again acknowledged his guilt and expressed remorse. He asked for leniency, citing what he said was his otherwise unblemished law enforcement record.
“I was and continue to be very proud of my work at the FBI,” he said, reciting his record in bringing criminals to justice “and returning kidnapped children to their parents.”
Referring to the FBI’s “proud and noble” history, he said, “I believe my actions have tarnished that tradition.”
Kahoe’s attorney, James Richmond, argued for leniency.
“No one can show that he profited or was enriched when he refused to produce the after-action report and caused the executive summary to be destroyed,” the defense attorney said.
Richmond suggested that Kahoe was motivated by underlying tensions between the FBI high command and the U.S. attorney’s office in Idaho.
Weaver, who now lives in Montana, and his friend Kevin Harris were acquitted in 1993 of killing a federal marshal at the outset of the 11-day standoff with federal agents.
Weaver’s 14-year-old son, Sam, was killed the same day. Weaver’s wife, Vicki, was killed a day later by the FBI sniper’s bullet.
Federal prosecutors said Kahoe destroyed the documents to prevent the U.S. attorney’s office from turning them over to Weaver’s lawyers.
Richmond said Kahoe acted to withhold the reports “to protect what he wrongly perceived as the institutional best interests of the bureau.”
The lawyer said Kahoe’s admissions have already had a deterrent effect on FBI agents. “This case has resonated through the bureau in such a way that it will be a very long time before it is forgotten,” he said.
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The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Bill Morlin Staff writer The Associated Press contributed to this report.