Alex van der Zwaan, the London-based Dutch attorney who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in the ongoing Russia investigation, is the first person to be sentenced in connection with the special counsel inquiry, and contrary to the wishes of his defense lawyers, he will actually be spending time in prison.
Washington, D.C. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson noted in the official court transcript that van der Zwaan’s false statement were not an “incidental mistake” but in fact purposeful lies when he falsified his testimony during an interview last November about his contact with Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates, who has also pleaded guilty in this case.
Judge Jackson handed down a 30-day sentence which, though certainly not the maximum van der Zwaan could have faced for lying to a federal officer, is certainly more than onlookers were expecting. Generally, a fine is handed down, and actual jail time is withheld, except in the case of Obstruction of Justice, which Mueller may well have charged van der Zwaan with, had he not pleaded guilty in February.
US Code, Title 18, subsection 1001 provides for a sentence of not more than 5 years in prison, except in the case of terrorism-related statements.
The defendant turned to the judge directly for his remarks at the sentencing, telling Jackson,
“What I did was wrong. I apologize to the court, my wife, and my family.”
Prosecutors in the case simply asked that the Judge sentence van der Zwaan to “some time” as a deterrent to others who might be tempted to lie to federal authorities in the Russia probe but didn’t give a specific recommendation as to the length of the sentence.
He was also ordered to pay $20,000 in fines and report for two months of supervised release, or probation.
Featured image via New Century Times Gallery