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Appeals Court Rejects Former State Prosecutor’s Appeal

November 23, 1991

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A former state prosecutor has lost an appeal on his cocaine-distribution conviction stemming from a two-year investigation that reached into the U.S. Attorney General’s Office in Washington.

A three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision without comment Friday, three days after lawyers for former state Deputy Attorney General Richard Guida filed the appeal.

Guida had argued that prosecutors improperly vacated his original plea agreement.

In 1990, Guida pleaded guilty to one count of cocaine possession and agreed to cooperate with a federal investigation into cocaine use by Henry Barr, an aide to Dick Thornburgh while he was U.S. attorney general.

But later that year the agreement was dissolved at the request of federal prosecutors who accused Guida of withholding information.

Guida later pleaded guilty to the more serious charge of cocaine distribution, conditional on the outcome of the appeal rejected Friday. He was sentenced in May to an 11-month prison term.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Zubrod said the rejection ″underscores the principle that we are trying to make.″

″If you are going to cooperate with the government, you would have to go all the way,″ Zubrod said. ″You can’t go halfway and decide which information you would give to the government.″

Guida’s attorneys, James Becker and Paul Killion, both refused comment, saying they had not heard about the decision.

Guida could appeal to the full appellate court or to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The charges grew out of a two-year investigation of cocaine use among white-collar professionals in the Harrisburg area.

Guida, who served under Attorney General LeRoy Zimmerman, testified against Barr and identified him as a fellow cocaine user from 1984 to 1988.

Barr, a special assistant to Thornburgh until May 1989, is believed to be the highest-ranking present or former federal official convicted of drug charges. Barr also was legal adviser during Thornburgh’s years as Pennsylvania governor.

Barr was convicted in February of one count of cocaine possession, one count of conspiracy and two counts of lying to the government during a background check for the high-level job with the Bush administration.

He also filed an appeal Tuesday to set aside his 16-month jail sentence.

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