Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Jonathan Jay Pollard Spy Case

Day of Reckoning

The sentencing took place nine months later. It was March 4, 1987. The courtroom was packed. Among those sitting toward the back were Jay's sister, Carol, and Anne's father, Bernard Henderson. Dr. Morris Pollard and Mollie Pollard were too upset to come into the courtroom, so they waited for the news in the office of their son's attorney.

That attorney, Richard Hibey, wore a dark suit and a red tie as he pled for his client. He began by admitting Pollard's wrongdoing. "In the beginning, he did it for nothing," Hibey told the court. "Later, he received money for his efforts. The money corrupted him. His motivation to help Israel was irreparably soiled by the addictive effect of taking money for his work. His conduct violated his trust as a keeper of the nation's secrets, and when he was found out, he lied long enough to allow his handlers to flee the jurisdiction of the United States. Your honor, there is no excuse for his conduct, and we offer none to absolve him of his crimes."

Then Hibey pointed out the factor that so many people felt mitigated Pollard's crime, namely the friendship between America and the country for which he spied. "Israel is not and has never been an enemy of the United States," Hibey rightfully asserted. "Thus, your honor, any claim of damage, we submit, must be understood in terms of its severity. Here, thank God, the damage is simply not severe. . . There is room, therefore, your honor, for leniency while at the same time justice will be served. Thank you."

After Richard Hibey summed up for Jay, his brother James Hibey pled for Anne. Hibey said his client, "did not participate in the operational aspects of this affair. She never participated in obtaining, copying or delivering any classified documents or information to anyone." She was "a wife, albeit a knowing wife, who was motivated by love for her husband. She acted out of genuine concern and love for him, not out of any desire for money." He took note of her precarious medical condition and her need for medicine. "While at the jail," he said, "there were occasions on which she did not receive that medication and once, or finally, through the efforts of counsel, when she did receive it, it was frequently not given to her in a timely fashion. Because of her condition, she was unable to eat the jail food."

Jay Pollard spoke to the court on his own behalf. Like his wife, he had lost a great deal of weight during his confinement. However, he did not look as sickly as she did. "Over the past 15 months which I have been held in isolation," he said, "I have had more than enough time to reflect both upon my motives and upon the impact of my actions on behalf of the government of Israel.

"I have come to the inescapable conclusion that while my motives may have been well meaning, they cannot, under any stretch of the imagination, excuse or justify the violation of the law, particularly one that involves the trust of the government, and there is no higher trust than [for] those in the intelligence community."

He spoke about wishing that he had used legal means to seek remedy when he saw Naval Intelligence withholding information from Israel that he believed they should have shared and said he should have resigned when he found his conscience in such deep conflict with the organization he served. He expressed regret for accepting money for spying while emphasizing that personal gain was never his motive.

Finally, he spoke most movingly and poignantly of the harm he had caused Anne Henderson-Pollard. "I violated another trust," he told the court, "and that was the trust of my wife. Usually when a man and woman decide to get married, it is with the assumption that each will safeguard the interests of the other . . . I sacrificed her . . . on the altar . . . of political ideology. There is nothing virtuous in that. . . .

"So what I did, your honor, was that I violated, in essence, two trusts, one, to the nation and I say it again, it doesn't matter, ally or otherwise, a law was broken and I violated another trust, which in some respects, your honor, is a little bit more ancient and perhaps a little bit more sacred, and that is the trust that a wife implicitly has in her husband."

Anne Henderson-Pollard also spoke for herself. Wearing a gray suit and black blouse, clutching her hands over her belly, she was frail and wan. Her voice was terribly weak and many in the courtroom had trouble making out her words. "I pray to God every single day that I will be reunited with my husband," Henderson-Pollard said. "That is all I live for. . . . He is the most wonderful man I have ever laid eyes on or met in my entire life.

"I know that he undertook his actions because he believed that at the time he was doing good for both the United States and Israel . . . My husband and I are vehemently anti-Communist and we would never do anything to harm this country . . . We are dedicated and patriotic Americans and we are also loyal to Israel. . . .

"I love Jay very, very much and when he called to me in his eleventh hour, I responded because I felt that was what a wife should do. I felt that I was, while assisting my husband, not causing any harm to the United States at all. I did not compromise information . . . . I have never committed espionage in my life, nor would I ever." When Anne sat down, she was weeping. She turned to her husband for comfort.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Leeper summed up for the government. "As I was growing up," he declared in a powerful voice, "I was taught that there are, in fact, two sins that are unforgivable, and they are arrogance and deception. . . . it is arrogance and deception which drove this defendant to commit the acts, the criminal acts in this case, and they are also those two character traits, arrogance and deception, typical of the way he has sought to defend and excuse the things that he has done.

"It seems that this defendant believes that if he keeps repeating the words to this court, 'This case does not involve the Soviet Union,' that your honor then will swallow the position that he is taking that he caused no harm to the national security when he sold those thousands of pages of Top Secret and code word documents. . . Now, in taking that position, this defendant is saying, 'Jonathan Jay Pollard is right but the Secretary of Defense, in his sworn declaration to the court, is wrong when he states that as a result of Jonathan Pollard's activities enormous damage has been wrought to the national security. Jonathan Jay Pollard is right but the President of the United States, when he issued Executive Order 12356, was wrong when he said that the disclosure, the unauthorized disclosure, of Top Secret information to any nation, would cause or could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security.'"

Another Assistant U.S. Attorney, David Geneson, followed Leeper "Your honor, something has happened recently which sheds a great deal of light on what is going on in court here today," Geneson said. "I had the opportunity to watch 60 Minutes this last Sunday night, to watch an interview of the defendant Anne Henderson-Pollard. . . . When she was asked whether she understood what she was getting into, her response was 'Very much so.'" Geneson also quoted Anne as telling the interviewer, Mike Wallace, "I feel my husband and I did what we were expected to do, what our moral obligation was as Jews, what our moral obligation was as human beings. I have no regrets about that."

On the day of sentencing, Judge Aubrey Robinson said: "I think I should state for the record that during my entire tenure in this court, I have never had more voluminous submissions in connection with the sentencing of a defendant than I have had in this case. . . .

"I have read all of the material once, twice, thrice, if you will, and I have given careful consideration, not only to the submissions but to argument of counsel and I pronounce sentence as follows:

"With respect to the defendant Jonathan Jay Pollard, who is being sentenced for violation of Title XVIII United States Code, Section 794c, I commit the defendant to the custody of the Attorney General or his authorized representative for his life."

People gasped at the harsh sentence. Anne Henderson-Pollard let out screams of grief. "No! No! No!" she cried even as she collapsed in a heap on the floor. Two female bailiffs helped the distraught woman to her feet. She was sobbing as she stood on rubbery legs.

"I am required by law to impose a $50 assessment," Judge Aubrey continued. "There will be no fine.

"With respect to the defendant Anne Henderson-Pollard, I commit the defendant Anne Henderson-Pollard to the custody of the Attorney General or his authorized representative on the first count of the information to a period of five years. With respect to the second count of the information, I commit the defendant to a period of five years to run concurrent by the counts. And as required by the Comprehensive Crime Control Act, I impose a $50 assessment on each count."

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