The Words of the Gertz Family

Father's Court Case a 'Hot Potato'

Bill Gertz, Robert Selle, and Burt Leavitt
February 21, 1985

The following is a composite of two articles which appeared in the New York City Tribune on February 21, 1985.

The United States Parole Commission on February 20 denied parole to the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, and set a projected release date for August 20, which means Rev. Moon will have spent 13 months and 1 day in jail. Although his sentence is 18 months, 5 months will have been automatically deducted for good behavior.

The vote against Rev. Moon's early release was made under a seldom-used rotational case system, the Original Jurisdiction Procedure. This procedure is used by the Justice Department to determine parole in cases involving sentences of 45 years or more, for "crimes of notoriety," or for cases involving public figures. Rev. Moon had been informed that because of the public exposure of his case, his would be one of original jurisdiction.

Normally, one regional parole commissioner renders a decision on an inmate's case after a hearing at the prison by one or two hearing examiners. Under the Original Jurisdiction Procedure, however, after the hearing four concurring votes are required to reach a decision on parole, in an effort to spread the decision among several parole commissioners.

After interviewing Rev. Moon at the Federal Correctional Institution at Danbury, Connecticut, the two hearing examiners made a split recommendation that was forwarded to Northeast Regional Parole Commissioner Daniel Lopez, in Philadelphia, who did not rule on the case but passed it to the Southeast commissioner, Paula Tennant.

Tennant, in Atlanta, was the first commissioner to vote on the case. Then the case was forwarded to Washington for a vote by three national parole commissioners, Cameron Batjer, Vincent Fechtel, and Jasper Clay.

"There was not total agreement there," Miss Marble, chief analyst for the U.S. Parole Commission, told the New York City Tribune. Lacking the necessary four concurring votes, the case was sent before U.S. Parole Commission Chairman Benjamin Baer for the deciding vote.

Even then, "we still didn't have four concurring votes," Marble said. To break the deadlock, the case was routed to another commissioner under a predesignated rotation schedule, she said.

The final decision was made in Dallas by South Central Regional Parole Commissioner Victor Reyes, who cast the deciding "no" vote. The case was returned to Washington, which sent out the notification. Altogether, seven out of a possible nine parole commissioners reviewed the case.

Dr. Mose Durst, president of the American Unification Church, issued a statement, saying: "We are shocked at the continual persecution by the U.S. government in seeking to continue the imprisonment of the leader of a worldwide religion. Rev. Moon's imprisonment has been decried by thousands of church leaders and civic officials and civil rights leaders throughout America."

"Regardless of the injustice of Rev. Moon's imprisonment, he will continue to suffer with dignity and love, and serve as a model prisoner for the sake of the international religious community," he said.

Rev. Moon began serving his sentence July 20, 1984, after being convicted of failure to pay taxes on $112,000 of interest income on church funds held in his name from 1973-75. Tax lawyers have estimated that the total back taxes involved in the case came to $7,300.

Justice Department spokesman Joe Krovisky said in Washington that tax offenders usually serve from 10 to 14 months and that the parole board "saw no mitigating circumstances to reduce the sentence in Moon's case."

Mr. David Hager, a Unification Church attorney, disagreed that there were no "mitigating circumstances." He said that the outpouring of community support Rev. Moon received from churches and civil rights organizations throughout the nation would "ensure his integrity" after leaving prison; that the "host" of humanitarian projects the spiritual leader had initiated before and during his stay in prison justified his early release; and that there would be no lowering of respect for the law if he were paroled.

Rev. Moon will not be up for parole again, though the decision can be appealed by Rev. Moon at the next quarterly meeting of the commission, now tentatively scheduled for the third week in April. The commissioners at that meeting -- all nine are Reagan Administration appointees -- can then vote on the appeal. 

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