LOS ANGELES (Jul. 19)
Michael Goland, a maverick pro-Israel activist, has been sentenced to three months in a “jail-like facility” for violating federal election laws to ensure the 1986 re-election of U.S. Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.), one of Israel’s staunchest congressional supporters.
Goland, 43, had been convicted by a federal jury on one misdemeanor count for making an illegal political donation. The jury acquitted him on four felony counts of conspiracy and making false statements.
U.S. District Judge Ronald Lew also ordered Goland to perform 1,000 hours of community service. Prison sentences for misdemeanor violations of political donation laws are rarely given but Lew said that he meant to make an example of Goland to deter others from such offenses.
Lew initially ordered Goland to report for incarceration on Aug. 31 but postponed the date for 45 days to allow Goland’s attorney, Seth Waxman, to appeal the sentence. The judge’s reference to a “jail-like facility” might mean that Goland, should the appeal fail, would serve time in a federal conservation camp or other halfway house-type institution.
According to court testimony in the case, Goland secretly and illegally funneled $120,000 to a fringe right-wing candidate in the 1986 senatorial race in California.
The alleged aim was to siphon enough Conservative votes away from the Republican contender, Ed Zschau, to assure the victory of Cranston, a Democrat. In fact, the fringe candidate took away just enough votes from Zschau to clinch Cranston’s election.
There is no evidence that Cranston was involved in Goland’s effort on his behalf.
Waxman, speaking by phone from his office in Washington, said that in a pre-sentencing memorandum, Goland admitted that he had made a mistake in not notifying the Federal Election Commission of the $120,000 donation, and that he deeply regretted the grief that the matter had caused his family and friends.
Last year, Goland was tried on the same charges, but the trial ended in a hung jury.