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A brief look at the laws in question

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was indicted on three charges: obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements. Here are descriptions of those alleged crimes and the potential prison sentences and fines attached to them.

Obstruction of justice: Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald described this charge as "throwing sand" in his eyes. Technically, it refers to interfering with or hindering the course of an investigation. The indictment charges that Libby lied several times to mislead investigators. If convicted, a defendant faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Perjury: Perjury is lying or making provably false statements under oath that are designed to mislead. The maximum penalty is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Making false statements: This charge is related to making untrue statements that may not have been intended to mislead. The maximum jail time is five years with a fine of $250,000.

Because there are multiple counts of these various charges, Libby faces 30 years in prison and a total of $1.25 million in fines. Any sentence would be imposed by a U.S. district judge in Washington and probably would be less than the maximum penalties.

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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