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Prosecutors Ask Longer Prison Term for U.S. Judge

<i> From Associated Press</i>

The Justice Department has asked a federal appeals court to add about two years to the six-month prison sentence of U.S. District Judge Robert Aguilar, convicted of leaking a wiretap and lying to the FBI.

In papers filed this week with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, a federal prosecutor challenged a trial judge’s decision to reduce Aguilar’s sentence below the standard term for the crimes because of the ordeal awaiting him in removal from office and disbarment as a lawyer.

Justice Department lawyer Sara Lord said the sentencing judge exceeded his authority and should have given Aguilar the term of 21 to 27 months in prison that federal sentencing guidelines prescribe.

The appeals court has yet to schedule a hearing in the case. Aguilar is free without bail during his appeal.

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Aguilar, 60, of San Jose, a 1980 appointee of President Jimmy Carter, was convicted last August of disclosing a wiretap to Abe Chapman, an elderly ex-mobster who had been related to him by marriage.

He was also convicted of obstructing justice by lying to an FBI agent about the Chapman wiretap and about his conversations with the lawyer for a former Teamster leader who was seeking to overturn an embezzlement conviction.

Aguilar was acquitted of the most serious charge against him, seeking to use his influence with a fellow judge in the Teamster official’s case. But his two felony convictions, if upheld on appeal, virtually guarantee impeachment by Congress and removal from office.

He continues to hold the title and salary of a judge, though he is hearing no cases.

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