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A former senior Mobil Oil Corp. executive was sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison Thursday after admitting he evaded taxes on more than $7 million he received for negotiating oil deals. J. Bryan Williams, 63, apologized for the “stupid mistakes that I made” before U.S. District Judge Harold Baer in Manhattan imposed the most lenient sentence permitted by federal sentencing guidelines. Baer also ordered Williams, of McLean, Va., to pay a $25,000 fine and reminded him that he had agreed to pay the Internal Revenue Service $3.51 million in back taxes, from 1993 through 2000. If he is accepted into a prison alcohol abuse program, Williams could be free in two and a half years. IRS and FBI investigators built a case against Williams during a wider probe into the relationships between the country of Kazakhstan and U.S. executives as lucrative oil deals were negotiated during the 1990s. That probe is continuing. David Schertler, a lawyer for Williams, portrayed his client sympathetically, saying Williams had built an honorable life as a lawyer after four years in the U.S. Air Force and more than a year in Vietnam. “He has questioned himself repeatedly as to why he would commit a crime to begin with,” Schertler said. “I believe he’s sorry and chagrined for what he’s done.” The judge, though, said the tax fraud occurred over too many years for him to believe that the crime was an aberration. Williams said he was wrong when he failed to report a $2 million payment from Kazakhstan officials to his employer, Mobil Oil, and when he failed to report the existence of a Swiss bank account he opened in 1993. “I’ve agonized over this for years and years and years,” he told Baer. Williams said he admitted his tax fraud and gave prosecutors a “road map” to follow when they investigated him. Prosecutors said he acted only when he realized the government was after him. Williams was manager of government crude acquisitions and sales for Mobil Oil’s successor company, Exxon Mobil Corp. of Irving, Texas, before he retired in 1998. Outside court, Exxon Mobil lawyer Ted Wells noted that Williams told the judge that the secret payments he received were without the knowledge of Exxon Mobil and that they were unrelated to the company’s purchase of a Kazakhstan oil field. Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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