ATLANTA (AP) Former Gwinnett County Commissioner Shirley Lasseter was sentenced Wednesday to just under three years in federal prison for her part in a scheme to accept bribes in exchange for her influence and vote for a proposed real estate development in her district.
"Almost from the moment she took office as a Gwinnett County commissioner she began betraying the trust of the citizens of Gwinnett County," said U.S. Attorney Sally Yates after the sentencing.
Lasseter, 64, admitted in federal court in Atlanta in May to accepting a total of $36,000 in cash from a man she believed was a businessman seeking to develop a real estate project in her district. The man was actually an undercover FBI agent.
The judge sentenced Lasseter to two years and nine months in prison, to be followed by three years supervised release. The sentencing was consistent with what prosecutors had requested. Lasseter's lawyers had asked for two years.
Lassete! r's son, John Fanning, and another man, Carl "Skip" Cain, were also charged in the bribery scheme. Their sentencing, originally set for Wednesday, was postponed. They each face up to 10 years, one to three years supervised release, payment of restitution and a maximum fine of $250,000 for the bribery charge.
Fanning, 34, and Cain, 65, also face a minimum of five years and up to 40 years for a related drug-trafficking charge.
Lasseter did not address the judge during Wednesday's hearing, but two of her children and two friends spoke on her behalf. They said Lasseter had been an honest and faithful public servant, serving as mayor of Duluth for more than a decade before becoming a county commissioner. Shortly after she became commissioner in January 2009, they said, her life fell apart when her husband died, her longtime home was in foreclosure, she was plagued by money troubles and her health began to fail.
"The decisions of my mom and my brother have affec! ted our family as a whole. We come here today shamed and broken by the ir actions," said Lasseter's daughter Jennifer Limon, her voice breaking with emotion. She described the hardships her mother faced and said they left her "very broken and lost."
But prosecutors argued that Lasseter accepted or arranged to accept bribes from at least three people, which shows that her actions were systematic, not a momentary lapse in judgment.
Lasseter, her family members and her lawyers all declined to comment after the hearing, but Lasseter did hug her friends and children, thanking them for their support. She remains free on bond and will likely be asked to report to a minimum-security prison within four to six weeks.
Lasseter, Fanning and Cain are all cooperating with federal officials in an ongoing investigation into corruption in Gwinnett County.