Ex-EPA official escapes jail time for perjury Judge orders fine, home detention

October 04, 1992|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Staff Writer

Less than two years ago, Robert E. Caron dodged a Scu missile in the Persian Gulf while trying to keep track of the huge Kuwaiti oil spill.

On Friday, he dodged a jail sentence in U.S. District Court in Baltimore after pleading guilty to perjury charges.

Caron, 39, of Mount Holly, N.J., received three months of home detention, three years' probation and a $2,000 fine for perjury.

Caron is the former chief of the Environmental Protection Administration's emergency response and preparedness unit for the region covering Maryland. He pleaded guilty June 17 to lying about his credentials in a 1988 federal case on hazardous waste in Western Maryland.

While testifying as an expert witness for prosecutors in that case, he said he had a bachelor's degree in environmental science and a master's degree in organic chemistry.

It was discovered before the start of a federal civil trial in West Virginia, however, that he had no college degree. His perjured deposition led to dismissal of that case.

Caron resigned from his $60,000-a-year post in March. He now works for a private environmental company, his lawyer said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stuart A. Berman told Judge J. Frederick Motz that Caron's actions warranted at least a year in prison. He said the defense lawyer in the 1988 case will likely seek a new trial based on the perjured testimony. Mr. Berman said the perjury has caused government agencies to spend "substantial" resources to clear up legal problems.

David B. Irwin, Caron's attorney, argued that the government was overstating the effects of the perjury.

Caron admitted that he lied on his resume. "I just never felt it was important enough to correct," he said. Mr. Irwin said the lie snowballed when prosecutors asked Caron about his credentials he testified as an expert witness. But he said the lie was an aberration for Caron. Mr. Irwin noted that his client was the EPA's sole representative in Operation Desert Storm. He said Caron's job was to control the mammoth oil spill in Kuwait caused by Iraqi soldiers during the Gulf War.

Judge Motz said he was swayed by Caron's character, his work and his devotion to the EPA.

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