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April 27, 2011

You be the judge: what's a fitting response to diplomat duty as a suggested alternative sanction?

The suggestion that readers imagine serving as a judge and respond to a unique sentencing request is prompted by this new New York Times column, which begins this way:

Former State Senator Vincent L. Leibell III, who pleaded guilty in December to corruption charges, is to be sentenced in two weeks. Prosecutors are seeking two years in prison. But Mr. Leibell, a Republican from Putnam County, has an alternate proposal: a tour of duty as a diplomat in some unsteady corner of the globe — perhaps Iraq or Libya.

“I have spoken with people in the court system and told them of my great willingness to serve during the current difficulties our nation is experiencing,” he wrote to Judge Warren W. Eginton of the United States District Court.

Mr. Leibell, 64, a former Navy captain who spent decades in the Reserve, served 28 years in the Assembly and then the Senate, where he was chairman of the homeland security committee. He said his background in public service would “lend itself to our efforts at nation-building in the Middle East.”

“While I recognize that I am somewhat older and not fluent in those languages,” he wrote, “I would nonetheless be honored to serve on one of our civilian nation-building teams. I believe that I would be uniquely qualified if allowed to serve.”

Mr. Leibell’s seemingly novel suggestion for an alternative sentence adds yet another eyebrow-raising chapter to his downfall, which was as swift as it was devastating. Mr. Leibell’s guilty plea came only a month after he won election as Putnam County executive — a position he never actually assumed.

Mr. Leibell pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and tax charges, for which sentencing guidelines call for 18 to 24 months’ imprisonment. Prosecutors asked Judge Eginton to impose a sentence at the top of that range “to send the unmistakable message that those who are elected to make the law must first obey it themselves.”

But in a four-page letter, Mr. Leibell asked to be spared prison. In addition to his interest in nation-building, he said he was seeking admission into a master’s program in diplomacy. A slew of former constituents and friends also wrote to the judge on his behalf, including State Senator Stephen M. Saland, a Republican from Poughkeepsie.

April 27, 2011 at 03:38 PM | Permalink


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This utilitarian proposal should not be summarily dismissed. He may be quite mistaken. He has a high risk of getting hurt in one of those foreign assignments.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 27, 2011 4:29:47 PM

Aren't diplomatic posts supposed to be positions of honor and responsibility?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 27, 2011 5:54:04 PM

Let him serve a tour as a 'grunt' in a rifle squad assisting the medical corpsman in Afganistan. If he makes it through fine if not, at least he made the ultimate sacrifice for his country trying.

a citizen & vet

Posted by: James | Apr 27, 2011 6:44:00 PM

James, I like your style....It would serve a good purpose and is a fair trade.. Who does he think he is, to basically ask for a paying job, when he needs to go and play softball with boys for a bit...

Posted by: Josh | Apr 27, 2011 8:22:58 PM

How about free meals for life?

Posted by: Chris | Apr 27, 2011 10:05:14 PM

"Aren't diplomatic posts supposed to be positions of honor and responsibility?"

LOL, now that is the most sensible thing that you have said lately.

James's idea is not half bad but as an old Infantryman I am not sure that I would trust him to have my back.

Posted by: Thomas | Apr 27, 2011 10:14:25 PM

Thomas --

"James's idea is not half bad but as an old Infantryman I am not sure that I would trust him to have my back."

Nailed it.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 27, 2011 10:48:30 PM

Huh? What?

"Oh, you caught me, I'm a corrupt politician. Punish me by sending me to some other country to teach them how to implement democracy. And by going to school and learning diplomacy." While we're at it, why don't we "make" him serve out his term as Putnam County Executive?

Posted by: C.A.J. | Apr 27, 2011 11:47:02 PM

More proof he is an idiot and everything in our country breaking down. Just give him lethal injection here.

Posted by: KOWMAN | Apr 28, 2011 7:58:59 AM

"Nailed it."

Why thank you Bill. Glad we can agree on at least one thing.

Posted by: Thomas | Apr 28, 2011 6:22:43 PM

all corrupt politicians must get to jail if prove.

Posted by: marietta dui attorney | May 9, 2011 3:12:38 AM

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