Tuesday, October 27, 2009

John Ambrose, Former U.S. Marshal, Sentenced to Prison

A deputy U.S. marshal who was convicted of leaking secret information about a mob witness was sentenced today to four years in prison — a punishment a judge said is designed to deter others in law enforcement from ever contemplating similar crimes.

The marshal, John Ambrose, sat motionless as U.S. District Court Judge John F. Grady handed down the sentence to a courtroom filled with his family, friends and onetime colleagues.

Ambrose, who was convicted in April, had sought probation. His lawyer said his client lived for his job and his conviction has likely stripped him of any future in law enforcement.

Prosecutors had recommended he spend more than six years in prison.

Federal sentencing guidelines called for Ambrose, a 41-year-old father of four, to spend between 12 and 18 months behind bars, but Grady said that wasn’t nearly enough time. “There is really no mitigating circumstance in this case as far as the evidence is concerned,” Grady said. “What we’re dealing with here is a very serious crime . . . that has virtually no likelihood of detection.”

Ambrose in 2002 and 2003 worked stints in the federal witness protection program guarding mob turncoat Nicholas Calabrese, whose testimony in 2007 helped convict several mobsters in the landmark Family Secrets trial.

Ambrose was convicted of leaking information about Calabrese to a family friend, William Guide, who had done prison time with Ambrose’s late father after their convictions in the “Marquette 10” police corruption trial in 1983. In a twist, Grady was the judge in that case.

Prosecutors have said that Guide, who was never charged with any crimes regarding the younger Ambrose’s case, had known mob ties.

Authorities linked the leaks to Ambrose based on video surveillance of two mobsters talking at a federal prison in Milan, Mich., and overhearing the words “Marquette 10.”

They also say Ambrose’s is the only security violation in the history of witness protection program.

Ambrose’s lawyer, Frank Lipuma, told Grady that his client did have talks with Guide and even “shot his mouth off,” but that “there was never any intent” to harm the program.

After court, Lipuma said he will ask that Ambrose stay out of prison pending appeal. If Grady rejects that, Ambrose is to report to prison Jan. 26.

“I think he relied a little too heavily on the deterrence factor,” Lipuma said of Grady’s sentence. “Mr. Ambrose is not sorry for what he did because what is claimed that he did has been, from day one, overstated.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney T. Markus Funk said prosecutor took no joy in sending a law enforcement officer to prison. “It’s obviously a sad day,” Funk said. “However, we want to emphasize from our perspective the judge’s sentence was fair and just.”

Thanks to Chris Fusco and Natasha Korecki

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