EX-IRS auditor sentenced to three years for firing gun outside White House

Tuesday, July 31st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A former Internal Revenue Service auditor with a long history of mental illness was sentenced Tuesday to three years in a federal prison hospital for a shooting incident outside of the White House.

U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy accepted the terms of a plea agreement acknowledging Robert W. Pickett's assault on federal officers and possession of a gun without a license in violation of a local law. Kennedy recommended that Pickett be allowed to serve the sentence at a Bureau of Prisons hospital in Rochester, Minn.

``You are mentally ill,'' Kennedy said during a sentencing hearing that lasted less than 15 minutes. ``Take advantage of the treatment that will be afforded you.''

The judge also assessed Pickett three years probation with the recommendation that treatment of his mental conditions be continued during that time.

Pickett, 48, of Evansville, Ind., has told the court that he first began having symptoms of mental illness 30 years ago. At the time of his arrest he was taking 24 different types of medication. He has seen psychiatrists and psychologists for at least 15 years.

Officers said Pickett fired two shots outside the White House Feb. 7 before pointing a handgun in the direction of uniformed officers concealed in shrubbery on the grounds. Another uniformed officer wounded Pickett in the leg before he was subdued.

``Mr. Pickett is not a person who should ever have possession of a firearm,'' said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald L. Walutes, who described Pickett's actions outside the White House as an effort to draw publicity.

Although Pickett said little in court, he apologized through one of his court-appointed attorneys.

``He had no intention to harm others,'' said Gregory L. Poe, a lawyer with the Federal Public Defender's Service.

Kennedy had the option of sentencing Pickett to 25 years in prison and fines totaling more than $250,000. Had the agreement been rejected or substantially changed, Pickett had the option of withdrawing his plea.

The agreement, signed by Pickett acknowledged that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict him of the charges.