STATESBORO, GA – In federal court, in his polo and his khaki pants, former city councilman Gary Lewis appeared before Judge Lisa Godbee Wood Monday morning in Statesboro.
Lewis previously entered a guilty plea on April 14, 2016 on charges of extortion. The judge had directed probation to prepare a pre-sentencing report. Neither the prosecution nor the defense objected to the report.
The sentencing guidelines permitted the following:
- 18-24 months in prison
- 1-3 supervised release
- $4,000 – $40,000 in fines
- $2,500 in restitution
- $100 in a special assessment
The judge, before sentencing, brought to light that over the course of 48 hours ten anonymous phone calls were made to the local paper, the Statesboro Herald, blaming the mayor, the victim and the FBI for the guilty plea. The calls were made 2 days after the guilty plea was entered.
Calling the anonymous calls cowardly, ineffective, and ridiculous Judge Wood asked for the voicemail to be played in open court.
Special agent Stanley Slater took the stand and notated a timeline of the voicemail. All ten voice mails alleged racial injustice and said the mayor and law enforcement had dark days coming. Under oath, agent Slater says he believes the voice to be that of Gary Lewis. He based that assumption on his over 50 hours of interaction with Lewis over the course of the investigation.
Lewis maintains he did not make the call and the defense noticed he had no criminal history outside of alcohol abuse. His attorney called the act “an abuse of public trust and position.” and said there is no excuse and or justification.
U.S. attorney requested 15 months in prison noting it was a serious crime that strikes at the heart and body of politics.
Lewis maintained he did not line his pockets but needed the money for his sister who was battling cancer. He also maintains that the money was in loan.
Ultimately Judge Wood told Lewis, “Your record is not as favorable as you think.” She also said she’s not convinced that Lewis believes he did wrong. She said, “You see yourself as a victim. You abused voters and the people you served.”
Lewis was sentenced to:
- 15 months in prison
- $2,500 in restitution beginning while he’s in prison
- Interest was waived, as Lewis is unable to pay
- No fines were assessed, as Lewis is unable to pay
- $100 mandatory special assessment
- 3 years supervised released, with drug and alcohol tests
Lewis is required to voluntarily surrender to the Federal Prison Facility in Jesup within 30 days. He has no rights to an appeal and the judge warned that any addition phone calls to the media will be investigated by law enforcement.