Attorneys for former Morgan County Judge-Executive Tim Conley are opposing a request for a much longer prison sentence for him in a kickback scheme.
The prosecutor in the case argued that Conley deserves more time than called for under advisory sentencing guidelines for several reasons, including that his conduct was worse than that of public officials in many kickback cases. The top sentence for Conley under the guidelines would be seven years and three months. Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew T. Boone argued Conley should instead be sentenced to 11 years and four months.
The guidelines take a variety of factors into account in coming up with a potential sentence, such as a defendant's criminal history and the amount of money involved in a crime. Federal judges are not bound by those calculations.
Conley's attorneys said in a response this week that a sentence of more than seven years and three months would not be justified. The calculations used to come up with the top recommended sentence already took into account factors the prosecutor said called for a higher sentence, such as the length of the kickback scheme and the number of payoffs, according to the defense motion.
Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 27.
Conley, 50, pleaded guilty to mail fraud, admitting he received at least $130,000 in kickbacks from contractor Kenneth Gambill between 2009 and 2013.
Conley carried out the scheme by opening bids on bridge projects in private and changing Gambill's bid to make sure he got contracts, then demanding part of the payment, according to court records.
However, Conley's attorneys said in their motion that he didn't simply line his pockets with the money, but rather gave a lot of it to people in need and to community groups. What's more, all the bridge projects were completed, the defense motion said.
Boone said in his motion that Conley and some around him seemed to make light of his illegal conduct.
For instance, Conley did not resign after pleading guilty in August. His name remained on the ballot for re-election in November, and his wife and mother appeared in an advertisement urging people to vote for him.
Conley's attorneys responded that he couldn't get his name off the ballot because he pleaded guilty one day after the deadline for doing so.
Defense attorneys said Conley understands that his conduct was inappropriate, accepts responsibility and knows he must be punished.
Conley spent days discussing his case and "various other instances of local government corruption" with federal prosecutors, the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to his motion.
One of Conley's attorneys, R. Michael Murphy, said the defense team could not comment on the content of those talks with authorities, saying only "we tried to be as cooperative as possible in areas of interest to those agencies."
Conley's motion said he will seek a sentence below the minimum of five years and 10 months calculated under the advisory guidelines.