ALM Properties, Inc.
Page printed from: http://www.law.com
Select 'Print' in your browser menu to print this document.
Former Special Counsel Charged With Criminal ContemptFederal investigators charged the nation's former top protector of whistleblowers Thursday with criminal contempt of Congress. Former U.S. Special Counsel Scott Bloch withheld information from a House committee during the George W. Bush administration, according to a federal court filing by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, D.C. Bloch had been under investigation for allegedly retaliating against his own employees.
2010-04-26 12:00:00 AM
Federal investigators charged the country's former top protector of whistleblowers Thursday with criminal contempt of Congress.
Former U.S. Special Counsel Scott Bloch withheld information from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee during the George W. Bush administration, according to a two-page filing in federal court by the U.S. Attorney's Office here.
The charging papers filed in the case are known as an "information" and ordinarily signify that a defendant is preparing to enter a guilty plea as part of an agreement with prosecutors.
Bloch had been under investigation for allegedly retaliating against his own employees.
During the Bush administration, Bloch headed the federal agency responsible for protecting the rights of federal workers and ensuring that government whistleblowers are not subjected to reprisals.
Bloch came under heavy criticism shortly after taking office in 2004, in part for closing hundreds of whistleblower cases allegedly without investigating them.
In 2008, the FBI raided Bloch's office and home amid allegations that he destroyed evidence and potentially lied to Congress during an Office of Personnel Management investigation of his conduct.
The House committee had asked Bloch to provide a transcribed interview regarding his reported use of a private computer repair company to delete computer files in 2006.
According to the court papers, Bloch failed to give the House committee staff a complete explanation about his instructions that the repair firm, Geeks On Call, perform data deletions on Bloch's computers and on computers of two non-career appointees at Bloch's office.
Bloch told the House investigative staff that the data wipe was done to protect government and personal information on the computer, not to destroy it, according to interview transcripts.
An attorney representing nonprofit organizations supporting whistleblowers said she was outraged by prosecutors charging Bloch with only a single misdemeanor.
"After five years of obstructing this investigation, destroying evidence and retaliating against his own conscientious employees, he is now going to be permitted to plead guilty to one misdemeanor; that's not sufficient," said attorney Debra S. Katz, who also represents employees in Bloch's former office. One positive development, said Katz, is that "we expect the inspector general at the Office of Personnel Management -- which has been investigating this for five years -- will now be in a position to issue its investigative report on Scott Bloch's misconduct."
Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.