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Former Thornburgh Aide Sentenced in Cocaine Case

May 31, 1991

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) _ A former aide to U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh got 16 months in prison, double the maximum in federal sentencing guidelines, because he violated public trust in lying about his cocaine use, a judge said.

U.S. District Judge Edwin Kosik sentenced Henry Barr, a former state and federal prosecutor, on Thursday. This morning, Kosik gave another prosecutor, former deputy state attorney general Richard Guida, an 11-month sentence on a cocaine-distribution count.

Barr, who served as a special assistant to Thornburgh, is believed to be the highest-ranking present or former federal official convicted of drug charges. He is scheduled to report to prison June 7.

With time off for good behavior, lawyers said he would probably serve about 14 months.

Barr was convicted in February on one count of cocaine possession, one count of conspiracy and two counts of lying to the government during a background check for his Justice Department job.

The government said Barr lied about his drug use to obtain a security clearance for his Justice Department job, which gave him access to classified information.

Barr, who left the Justice Department in May 1989, could have faced up to 12 years in prison. His lawyer, Charles Scarlata, asked Kosik to sentence Barr to probation or house arrest.

But Kosik, agreeing with federal prosecutor William Cocoran, said a prison term was necessary because Barr had violated the public trust.

Kosik acknowledged that Barr ″distinguished himself in public service″ but said the lawyer ″failed to guard against the arrogance that comes with power.″

Sentencing guidelines for Barr called for a prison term of two to eight months, the judge said.

In sentencing Guida this morning, Kosik said a jail term was necessary because Guida encouraged friends to use cocaine. Federal prosecutor Gordon Zubrod said there is no evidence Guida sold cocaine. But he said giving the drug to friends is classified as distribution.

Guida remains free pending the outcome of an appeal.

Scarlata said he would appeal both Barr’s sentence and his February conviction.

Barr did not speak during the proceeding and would not comment as he left the courthouse with his wife, Paula.

In addition to working for Thornburgh at the Justice Department, Barr was a legal adviser during Thornburgh’s years as Pennsylvania governor and was an assistant U.S. attorney when Thornburgh was U.S. attorney in Pittsburgh in the mid-1970s. He also worked as a deputy state attorney general.

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

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