Tucker Sentenced to Four Years Probation

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LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas: Calling prosecutors' request for a lengthy prison term a death sentence, a federal judge sentenced former Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker to four years probation for his May 28 conviction on Whitewater fraud and conspiracy charges. U.S. District Judge George Howard Jr. said prison "would be as cruel as the grave" for the ailing defendant. Tucker faced 10 years in prison but had appealed for leniency, citing his public humiliation and a chronic liver condition. Tucker was the first of the three Whitewater defendants to be sentenced. Susan McDougal will be sentenced Tuesday, but after cooperating with federal prosecutors James McDougal's sentencing has been postponed until November 18. In a potentially troubling development for President Clinton's reelection bid, lawyers have reported that McDougal, who faces 84 years in prison and $4.5 million in fines, has been talking to Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr's office for several weeks. In the past, McDougal had feistily refused to cooperate with the prosecution, which he called a $5 million Republican smear campaign. In May the unwell 55-year-old faced possibility of a jail sentence stoically, saying if he were given a jail sentence, he would cheat prosecutors of their victory in the end by dying in prison. Prosecutors now suspect that McDougal may be cooperating to help his former wife, says TIME'S Jeff McAllister. Mrs. McDougal refused an early offer from Starr to plead guilty to a misdemeanor in return for her cooperation. Now she faces 17 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Whatever information Jim McDougal may have tucked up his sleeve remains very much a mystery, and there is not much the White House can do until he reveals his cards. "Like much of Whitewater affair," says McAllister, "the White House just has to grin and bear it." -->