Tim Longmeyer, a Democratic Party foot soldier who worked his way up to top spots in Kentucky government, should serve 70 months in prison for using his position to arrange for kickbacks from a contractor, a federal judge ruled Thursday.
U.S. District Court Judge Karen K. Caldwell also ordered Longmeyer to pay $203,500 in restitution.
Longmeyer will have to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence. There is no parole in the federal prison system, but inmates can shave 15 percent from their sentences with good behavior.
Longmeyer apologized to his family, state employees and federal authorities during the hearing in federal court in Lexington.
“There is no excuse for my actions,” he said. “I failed to follow my own moral compass, and for that I’m deeply ashamed.”
Caldwell ordered Longmeyer to report to prison by 2 p.m. on Dec. 7. His attorney, Brian Butler, asked the judge to recommend that Longmeyer be assigned to a minimum-security facility in Alabama.
Longmeyer, 48, was secretary of the Personnel Cabinet under former Gov. Steve Beshear and worked for a few months as a top deputy to his son, Attorney General Andy Beshear.
Longmeyer resigned in March after learning he would be charged in the corruption investigation, which continues.
Asked after court if he felt he let down the Beshears, Longmeyer said they are a wonderful family and that he was sorry for letting anyone down.
Longmeyer pleaded guilty in April to receiving $203,500 in cash and illegal campaign contributions from Lexington consulting company MC Squared in 2014 and 2015.
That was the period covered in his plea, but the scheme began several years earlier, according to court records.
Longmeyer’s cabinet administered the state employee insurance plan. He used his influence to get providers Humana and Anthem to hire MC Squared for work such as gauging members’ satisfaction with health plans, then took kickbacks from the company.
Louisville political consultant Larry O’Bryan, a friend of Longmeyer’s, pleaded guilty Wednesday to acting as the middleman in the scheme, taking about half the $1.29 million that MC Squared received from Humana between March 2011 and March 2014, then passing on about half of his cut to Longmeyer.
Court documents allege that the owner of MC Squared, Sam C. McIntosh, took part in the kickback scheme, but he has not been charged.
The circumstances of guilty pleas by Longmeyer and O’Bryan indicate they are cooperating with authorities. U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey declined comment on that.
“No cases have a higher priority in our office than those involving public corruption, and we are committed to protecting the public from those who seek to unlawfully enrich themselves at the taxpayers’ expense,” Harvey said.
Longmeyer faced a sentence of 70 to 87 months under advisory sentencing guidelines.
Butler asked Caldwell to sentence Longmeyer to no more than 30 months in prison, however, citing his career of public service and the fact that the crime has cost him his job, will cost him his law license, and has been a tremendous embarrassment to him and his family.
Butler said Longmeyer handled troubling child abuse cases as a prosecutor in Louisville, pursuing justice for vulnerable victims; started a program for mothers to drop off unwanted newborns without fear of reprisal; and started a program to cut school truancy that was nationally recognized.
At the Personnel Cabinet, Longmeyer’s recommendations on state employee health insurance resulted in more than $150 million being returned to the state General Fund, and there was a $500 million surplus when he left, Butler said.
“His work history is second to none,” Butler told Caldwell.
Butler said Longmeyer succumbed to temptation, but he deserves credit for not ducking responsibility for his crime. He met with prosecutors to come clean and help authorities the same day an FBI agent first approached him about the investigation, Butler said.
Longmeyer made arrangements to pay $50,000 on Thursday toward his restitution, Butler said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Boone argued that Longmeyer deserved a sentence of 70 months, calling the crime “uncommonly serious” because Longmeyer not only took a lot of money, but because his actions undermined public trust at a time when people already are cynical about government and politicians.
Boone said that as a former prosecutor, Longmeyer knew better than to engage in corruption, and that his crime wasn’t a one-time lapse in judgment. Longmeyer took 30 kickbacks in the period covered in his guilty plea, Boone said.
“Mr. Longmeyer abused that position to steal from the public,” Boone said.
Boone said Longmeyer used about half of the payoffs for straw campaign contributions. Longmeyer liked being perceived as a person who could raise money for political campaigns, Boone said.
Caldwell acknowledged Longmeyer had done a lot of good in his career — calling him a good man who made a big mistake — but said his crime struck at the heart of honest and efficient government.
Caldwell noted that unlike most defendants who come before her, Longmeyer had advantages such as a good upbringing, education, a good job and a loving family.
“Yet he risked it all and lost it all by peddling his official influence for financial gain,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell noted an outpouring of support for Longmeyer in more than 100 pages of letters she received from family members, friends and fellow parishioners at St. Agnes in Louisville.
Supporters said Longmeyer is a devoted, loving father active in his church; a hard-working, altruistic public servant who believes in the power of politics and government to help people; and a selfless man who put other’s needs ahead of his.
“Simply said, Tim is a good person, who made a mistake,” wrote Chuck Flaherty, who attends church with Longmeyer.
Longmeyer’s wife, Lyn, wrote of what a blow it was when her husband told her he had made a mistake and would be going to jail.
“Everything he worked for, that he accomplished, that we sacrificed for, was gone,” she said.
Longmeyer’s fall has devastated their children. One daughter said she will never be happy, and another said she feels she has lost both parents because her mother had to go back to work and her father is going to jail, Lyn Longmeyer said.
But Caldwell also referred to a statement she received from the cabinet Longmeyer once ran, which said he had shattered the trust given to him and cast a pall that employees fear reflects badly on them.
The statement said the cabinet continues to look into areas outside the state employee health plan “tainted by Mr. Longmeyer’s acts,” including the state workers’ compensation program, the selection of lawyers to represent the agency and the coercion of state employees to make campaign contributions.
“We will work every day to rebuild trust with the commonwealth’s employees and demonstrate to the state as a whole that the wrongdoings of one are not indicative of the whole,” the statement said.