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Emory Reaches Plea Deal With Government, Admits Role in Fire

Karen Emory, the Capitol Police officer charged with setting a Nov. 2 fire in a Senate office building, acknowledged today in U.S. District Court that she willfully destroyed government property.

Under a plea agreement announced in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina, Emory also agreed to resign from the force within five days, pay the Architect of the Capitol $215 in damages and seek counseling.

In return, the government agreed to delay prosecution of the case for one year, and dismiss the misdemeanor charge of “willfully injuring or committing any depredation against any property of the United States” on March 2, 2009, if it is found Emory has met all the terms of her plea.

“Ms. Emory is glad that this matter is resolved and is looking forward to moving on with her life,” said her attorney, WilmerHale partner Ronald Machen, after the hearing.

At least 16 fires took place in Senate office buildings in the fall. Emory was charged with setting only the Nov. 2 blaze, which happened just before 8 a.m. in a women’s restroom in Dirksen.

According to the agreement, the government also will not bring charges against Emory in the other fires if she completes the requirements of the plea deal.

Emory is required to attend counseling twice a month for six months, followed by once-a-month sessions for the second six-month period.

Sporting a light brown sweater set and black slacks, Emory sat quietly in the courtroom before the hearing, surrounded by her attorneys and family members, including father-in-law William Emory, who is an attorney for the Capitol Police department.

Emory only spoke to tell Urbina that she understood the terms of the agreement and to admit her role in setting the Nov. 2 blaze. She quickly and quietly left the courtroom after the proceedings ended, leaving Machen to answer questions from reporters.

“We are happy to put this all behind,” Machen said, declining to comment on Emory’s possible motive for setting the fire.

Urbina, who early in the case had urged the parties to reach a plea deal, said the agreement “appears to be a fair and appropriate one.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela Schmidt, the prosecutor in the case, declined to comment following the proceedings.

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