Siegelman to serve just under 6 years in prison - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Siegelman to serve just under 6 years in prison

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Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman stands beside his attorney, Susan James, as he reacts to his re-sentencing. Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman stands beside his attorney, Susan James, as he reacts to his re-sentencing.
Former Governor Siegelman answers questions from the media following his re-sentencing. Former Governor Siegelman answers questions from the media following his re-sentencing.
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

After a seven year ordeal, former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman has been sentenced to 78 months in prison for bribery, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. This is just 10 months shy of the original 88 months Siegelman was originally sentenced to serve. Also as part of his sentence he must pay a fine of $50,000. That fine has already been paid as part of his first sentence. After release Siegelman must also perform 500 hours of community service.

Siegelman will get credit for the time already served in prison, approximately 9 months, so he'll spend a total of 5 years and 9 months in federal lockup. He will also have 3 years of supervised release after the prison sentence is served.

Federal Judge Mark Fuller handed down the sentence Friday in Federal Court in Montgomery. During sentencing Fuller said,  "I don't have any animosity towards you at all. My heart breaks for you, but today is the first day that I heard you say that you respected the system and accepted the verdict....it has taken you 21 years to understand that. And I find that difficult."

Attorney Susan James spoke to media outside the courthouse saying she had hoped for a lesser sentence, but her team put forth the best defense it could. Siegelman also addressed the media saying he and his family will go home, hold hands and pray. He said he couldn't think of a day in his life that was as difficult. He must surrender to begin his prison term on or before September 11, 2012.

Siegelman, 66, has been out of prison pending appeal for more than four years. He previously served about nine months of an original seven year sentence.

Siegelman and Richard Scrushy, former founder and CEO of HealthSouth, were convicted in 2006 after prosecutors said the two planned for Scrushy to contribute $500,000 to Siegelman's gubernatorial campaign in exchange for being appointed to a hospital regulatory board. Siegelman was also convicted on obstruction of justice charges for an alleged pay-for-play scheme with another Alabama businessman, Clayton "Lanny" Young.

"Today's sentence is another welcomed step toward closure to a dark chapter in Alabama politics," said acting U.S. Attorney Louis Franklin, Sr. "Former Governor Don Siegelman remains convicted for the serious felonious crimes he committed while serving as governor of Alabama."

The Justice Department set out to make an example of Siegelman to politicians around the country. "The Criminal Division's Public Integrity Section is determined to continue to vigorously pursue bribery cases involving federal, state and local officials," added Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer.

Scrushy served about five years for his part and was recently released. Siegelman began his sentence but was released pending his appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his case.

The former governor said he never expected to see his more than 40 year career as a public servant end in a federal courtroom. He apologized to the people of Alabama for the embarrassment he said he's brought, and he even said he accepts that he was tried and found guilty by a jury of his peers. But Siegelman has never admitted to knowingly doing anything illegal. He told the judge that had he known he was close to the line where he was about to do something illegal, he would have taken a step back.

Once the face of the Alabama Democratic Party, Siegelman was elected on an education lottery platform, which voters ultimately struck down. The governor narrowly lost a re-election bid in 2002 to then U.S. Congressman Bob Riley, and failed amid legal troubles to even gain the Democratic nomination for a re-match in 2006.

The Alabama Democratic Party released a statement saying it was a sad day for the governor, pointing out that some convictions against him had been previously reversed and serious questions persist about standing convictions. "The Democratic Party of Alabama's thoughts and prayers are with Governor Siegelman and his family."

Siegelman will go to prison, but that's no guarantee the case is over. He has yet to make a decision on whether he'll appeal the re-sentencing.

You can read WSFA 12 News' blog of today's re-sentencing hearing here.

Copyright 2012  WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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