A self-proclaimed scientist and UFO witness said he didn't want a close encounter with Nevada's prison system, and a District Court judge on Monday obliged his request. Rather than sending Robert Lazar to prison, District Judge Jack Lehman sentenced him to probation on a pandering charge.
A primary source in the award-winning KLAS-TV, Channel 8 documentary "UFO's: The Best Evidence," Lazar was ordered to preform 150 hours of community service, stay away from brothels and undergo psychotherapy because of his guilty plea in June.
Lazar had admitted that he recruited a locally known prostitute and encouraged her to solicit customers at a Tamarus Street apartment complex.
As the focal point for much of reporter George Knapp's documentaries, Lazar claimed that the U.S. government was testing alien spacecraft at the Nevada Test Site, 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. However, Knapp's report also acknowledged that Lazar had a questionable past that included "some work" at a local brothel.
During his plea, Lazar at first would only admit to helping modernize the business of prostitute Toni Bulloch by doing some computer work. But prosecutor John Lukens said there was nothing on the computer records pertaining to the business of prostitution and that Lazar set up the operation the week he rented the apartment.
Although Lazar was trying to recruit other women from legal brothels for the local operation, his action was "not the type of involvement when one thinks of a pimp," Lukens said. "There were no drugs nor was there any indication of force or coercion," Lukens said. "For that reason Metro vice and the DA have no opposition to probation."
State parole and probation authorities had recomended a four month prison evaluation of Lazar. The charge carries a maximum six year prison sentence.
Lazar made no statement in court, referring the judge to a letter he had written stating that nothing scared him more than the thought of serving time. Lehman also received letters from Knapp, who called Lazar a friend, and from the office of Rep. James Bilbray, D-Nev.
Bill Smith, Lazar's attorney, said a felony conviction was enough punishment for his client's "misdirected adventure."
"This has had a devastating effect," Smith said. "He has to get his finances back together, reconstruct his self-image and his image with the public."
Afterward, Smith said his client was targeted because of his high-profile and controversial statements about what he alledgedly observed as an employee on secret test site projects.
Lehman said he was indeed surprised that the case wasn't negotiated down to a gross misdemeanor which would have been standard procedure with a defendant who, like Lazar, had no prior arrests. But Lukens said that the original plan was to prosecute on multiple felony counts. The prosecutor also referred in court to efforts by "members ofthe press" to minimize Lazar's crime.
Lehman said afterward that he ordered Lazar to undergo psychotherapy for a year because he could not make a determination regarding his claims.
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