Politics & Government

He bribed Andy Beshear’s top deputy. Now he’s headed to prison for nearly 3 years.

A consultant convicted of bribing a high-level state official in an attempt to get work for clients has been sentenced to two years and nine months in federal prison.

The sentence for James F. Sullivan also includes a $25,000 fine.

Chief U.S. District Judge Karen K. Caldwell sentenced Sullivan Thursday in Lexington.

A jury convicted Sulllivan of giving Tim Longmeyer a $1,000 bribe in March 2016.

At the time, Longmeyer was the top deputy to Attorney General Andy Beshear and Sullivan was trying to get business from the office for law firms to handle civil lawsuits.

There has been no evidence presented that Beshear, a Democrat who is running for governor, had any knowledge of wrongdoing by Longmeyer.

Sullivan allegedly bribed Longmeyer on other occasions when he headed the Personnel Cabinet before going to Beshear’s office.

However, the jury acquitted Sullivan on charges related to other alleged bribes.

Longmeyer quit the day after Sullivan gave him the $1,000 bribe and ultimately pleaded guilty to taking payoffs in return for getting state business for a Lexington company called MC Squared.

Longmeyer and Larry O’Bryan, a Louisville consultant who admitted being involved in payoffs with Longmeyer, testified against Sullivan.

Sullivan faced up to 10 years in prison based on his conviction, but attorneys for him and the government reached a deal that called for a sentencing range of 27 to 33 months.

In court Thursday, Sullivan apologized and asked Caldwell to sentence him to the least time possible.

“I know I made a terrible mistake . . . a stupid mistake,” he said.

Sulllivan’s attorney, C. Thomas Hectus, said that Longmeyer, not Sullivan, initiated the discussion of a bribe when Longmeyer was at Beshear’s office.

At one meeting, Longmeyer asked Sullivan for “Christmas consideration” at their next meeting, according to a court record.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Boone sought the highest sentence for Sullivan because of the seriousness of the crime. Sullivan was convicted on only one bribe, but he and Longmeyer contemplated an on-going scheme, Boone said.

The sentencing deal said Sullivan offered Longmeyer more payments after the $1,000 bribe, saying he would do more “if I can just get something going,” referring to getting business for clients.

“He’s somebody who should have known better. He didn’t have to resort to bribery,” Boone said. “He chose to.”

Caldwell said Sullivan deserved the top sentence under his agreement with the government because his crime eroded public trust in government and corroded the system.

“This eats away at the very fabric of our democracy,” the judge said.

Sullivan’s deal bars him from appealing his conviction or sentence.

Caldwell ordered him to report to prison on March 19.