Judge sentences ex-marshal to three months

Saturday, August 3rd 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A federal judge sentenced a former deputy U.S. marshal on Friday to three months in prison for lying about a sexual affair with an alternate juror in the trial of bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Benny Bailey pleaded guilty in May to lying to U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch, who had asked him about the relationship when McVeigh's attorney raised the issue in 1998.

Matsch oversaw the federal trials of McVeigh and co-defendant Terry Nichols.

On Friday, two federal prosecutors testified on Bailey's behalf and another federal judge supported Bailey by saying it was out of character for him to lie.

Bailey had asked Nottingham to depart from the guidelines and to impose only probation because his lie was atypical of his behavior.

But U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham said a prison term was necessary because of the seriousness of perjury and to deter others from committing perjury.

``What was at issue here was nothing less than the integrity of the McVeigh verdict,'' Nottingham told Bailey, who retired in 2000 as a supervisory deputy marshal after 30 years as a federal employee.

Nottingham ordered Bailey, 53, to serve three months of home detention after he is released from prison and to pay a $2,000 fine.

The judge said sentencing guidelines specify confinement of between 6 and 12 months under the circumstances in Bailey's case.

Bailey apologized to Nottingham. Outside the courtroom, he said he must ``do what I've got to do and go on about my business.''

McVeigh was convicted in 1997 and executed last year for the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, in which 168 people died.

McVeigh's attorney, Rob Nigh, had asked to look into an anonymous letter claiming Bailey and the juror had an affair during the trial and he tried to convince her of McVeigh's guilt. Matsch denied the request.

The affair, Nigh's effort to see if it affected McVeigh's trial and Matsch's secret inquiry did not become public until last year when Bailey was charged with a crime.

The alternate juror did not take part in deliberations because alternate jurors were not needed to replace any of the 12 active jurors. The affair began after the trial, according to the indictment of Bailey.

Nigh later said he did not believe Matsch would have allowed him to investigate the tip even if Bailey had told the truth, according to Bailey's lawyer, Peter Bornstein.

``Mr. Bailey did not lie to protect himself, but to protect the integrity of the McVeigh verdict,'' Bailey's attorney said in a court filing.