Ex-Navy officer gets 40 months Captain steered contracts for gifts, Amway business.

July 30, 1991|By Kelly Gilbert | Kelly Gilbert,Evening Sun Staff

Retired Navy Capt. James E. Weston was sentenced today to 40 months in federal prison without parole and was fined $7,500 for soliciting gifts and Amway business from contractors while he was the U.S. Naval Academy's public works officer.

Weston, convicted in May of conspiracy, bribery and obstruction of justice, continued to protest his innocence today in remarks to Judge John R. Hargrove in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

"I am deeply sorry to have had any personal business dealings with Dunton Contracting or other contractors, even though my intention was not to give preferential treatment to anyone in the use of government funds," Weston said.

"I regret the personal hurt and embarrassment my poor judgment has caused myself and my family, and others who supported me," Weston said. "I stand to lose my freedom as well as additional money."

But Hargrove said Weston clearly "lied, seriously lied" at his trial when he denied taking gifts and business in return for steering Navy contracts.

"I have no doubt that you totally violated your position of trust," the judge said. "It was pure and simple greed. This is a terrible case, and the evidence was abundantly clear."

Defense attorney William M. Ferris said Weston would appeal the sentence as well as his convictions.

Weston was convicted of the felony charges for official misconduct involving several academy contractors from 1985 to 1989, and for hiding evidence from a federal grand jury last year.

Prosecutor Jane F. Barrett said today that Weston was "engaged in a prolonged pattern of criminal activity," which included "pressuring subordinates to manipulate" contract awards, "violating the Navy's Standards of Conduct across the board," and "betraying the trust of his superior officers" and U.S. taxpayers.

Weston denied during his trial that he steered contracts to Amway customers and insisted that he repaid Annapolis contractor Carroll R. Dunton, from whom he solicited gasoline and numerous appliances.

But Weston admitted that he repeatedly sought favors from Dunton, cheated on his income tax and violated Navy ethical standards.

Ferris said Weston owes the government $40,000 in back taxes, penalties and interest, but said the captain's Navy pension is not endangered by his criminal convictions.

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