(Ken Silva, Headline USA) Disgraced ex FBI agent Robert Cessario was sentenced to three years of probation and received a $25,000 fine Thursday for destroying evidence related to the prosecution of a former Republican Arkansas state senator.
Cessario’s punishment was more than the one year of probation that the U.S. government recommended. But concerned citizens, including political activist Connie Davies, had hoped for more.
“The sentence does not fit the crime. It’s a crime what he did, destroying evidence as an FBI agent. The law says he can get up to 20 years in prison,” Davies said following the sentencing.
Cessario’s crime stems from the 2018 trial of former Arkansas state senator Jon Woods, a Republican, who was convicted of mail fraud and wire fraud charges and sentenced to roughly 18 years imprisonment. Woods was accused of participating in a scheme in which he accepted kickbacks in exchange for steering state grants to a small college in the state.
During discovering proceedings in the Woods trial, prosecutors ordered Cessario to turn over his laptop for a forensic examination. However, the former FBI agent lied to prosecutors, telling them he previously erased the laptop’s hard drive. Then, prior to delivering the laptop for examination, he paid professionals to erase the laptop’s hard drive.
Cessario was terminated from the FBI for his crime, and he pleaded guilty in August to destroying evidence related to the case against Woods.
Nevertheless, the Eighth District Court of Appeals upheld Woods’s conviction, ruling that the “evidence of the conspiracy [against Woods] was overwhelming,” despite the FBI’s conduct.
Following Thursday’s sentencing, the Woods family released the following statement: “Although it was not served, we are thankful that justice was sought today.
“Look no further than the sentence that was given to former Agent Robert Cessario, and you will clearly see that destroying evidence in a federal case to convict a man, now comes with a Netflix subscription and a pat on the back,” the family said. “Our family and friends will continue to seek the justice this nation once fought to protect.”
The relatively light sentence for Cessario is aligned with other FBI agents receiving probation for destroying evidence – including ex FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who was sentenced to one year probation for altering evidence in the Russiagate investigation.
Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.