House bank supervisor sentenced for lying, fraud

December 18, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — (TC WASHINGTON -- Former House Sergeant-at-Arms Jack Russ, a powerful Capitol Hill figure who once ran the scandal-scarred House bank, was sentenced yesterday to two years in prison for embezzlement, fraud and filing a false report.

U.S. District Judge Stanley Harris also ordered Russ, 48, to pay ++ $445,000 to investors he bilked and perform 250 hours of community service after his guilty plea to three felony counts last October.

Russ, who once counted senior members of Congress among his closest friends, was alone with his lawyer in the courtroom when sentence was pronounced. He showed no emotion.

Asked by reporters for comment afterward, he snapped: "I've already said it."

The judge rejected a plea by Russ' lawyer for a shorter sentence, imposing instead a two-year term at the lower end of the Justice Department's sentencing guidelines for similar cases.

"You've made mistakes -- there's nothing I can say to you that you haven't said to yourself," he told Russ.

"Never again run afoul of the criminal justice system."

Russ was supervisor of the House bank when it was disclosed that 355 current or former members of the House had at least one overdraft. The disclosure caused a political uproar that led to the closing of the bank and Russ' resignation under fire early in 1992.

Russ symbolized a free-and-easy way of doing business on Capitol Hill that was in effect when he started as a doorkeeper in 1967 and worked his way up the patronage ranks until he was elected House sergeant-at-arms in 1982.

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