The former chief of the FBI’s violent crimes section was sentenced to 18 months in prison Friday for destroying a report that criticized the bureau’s role in the 1992 fatal shootout at a white supremacist’s cabin in Ruby Ridge, Idaho.
E. Michael Kahoe, a 26-year FBI veteran, had pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice.
Kahoe, who is now retired from the FBI, was sentenced by Judge Ricardo Urbina, who could have imposed a two-year sentence. The judge also fined Kahoe $4,000 and ordered him placed on probation for two years after his release from federal prison.
In a statement immediately before the sentence was imposed, Kahoe again acknowledged his guilt and expressed remorse. He asked for leniency, however, citing what he said was his otherwise unblemished law enforcement record.
“I will always be known as the agent who obstructed justice in the Ruby Ridge incident,” Kahoe told the judge. “I must live every day of my life with the realization of what I have done.”
“I was and continue to be very proud of my work at the FBI,” he said, reciting his record in bringing criminals to justice “and returning kidnapped children to their parents.”
But, referring to the FBI’s “proud and noble tradition,” he added: “I believe my actions have tarnished that tradition.”
Kahoe’s attorney, James Richmond, argued for leniency, saying that “no one can show that he profited or was enriched when he refused to produce the after-action report and caused the executive summary to be destroyed.”
Richmond suggested that rather than profit, Kahoe was motivated by the underlying tensions between the FBI high command and the U.S. attorney’s office in Idaho.
Randall Weaver, owner of the Ruby Ridge cabin, and another man were acquitted of charges that they killed a federal marshal during the 11-day standoff with government agents.
Weaver’s 14-year-old son, Samuel, was killed in the gunfight. Weaver’s wife, Vicki, was later shot and killed by an errant FBI sniper’s bullet.
Federal prosecutors said Kahoe destroyed the documents to prevent the U.S. attorney’s office from turning them over to Weaver’s lawyers.
Richmond said Kahoe acted to withhold the reports “to protect what he wrongly perceived as the institutional best interests of the bureau.”